Somalia: UN launches humanitarian appeal
According to the press release, global events have shown the need for the international community "to assist societies undergoing violent social change and economic transition". Somalia is one of the poorest and most devastated countries in the world, with "the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and fourth highest infant mortality rate". About 780,000 people are now affected by food shortages, and urgently need international assistance.
The UN estimated that the food gap until next rainy season in 2002 to be 56,000 mt, said the press release. Malnutrition rates for all children under five in the hardest-hit areas was between 25 and 30 percent. The areas of most concern to aid agencies were the regions of Gedo, Bay and Bakol in the southwest, and Hiran in central Somalia, the UN World Food Programme's country director for Somalia, Kevin Farrell, said.
According to the press release, Somalia's economy is on the verge of collapse, "because of a sharp downturn in remittances, relentless inflation and continued ban on livestock exports" to the Gulf states. Somalia's remittance companies have been targeted for alleged links with terror groups, and the largest, Barakaat, has had its assets frozen. Because of that, Somalis in the diaspora were sending much less money home, said the press release.
Remittances, which had formerly brought into the country's economy "up to US $500 million a year, have now declined by up to 50 percent". This, coupled with an inflation rate which topped 116 percent over the last year could spell an economic disaster, which would affect livelihoods and trade flows, the press release said.
The UN agencies received only 20 percent of last year's appeal of $130 million, but Dan Gustafson, the acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said he was hopeful they would do better in 2002. "This year we may come close to what we requested," he said.
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2001
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