Somalia: ICRC boosts vital aid for hundreds of thousands of conflict victims

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling on its international donors to fund an increase of 18.7 million Swiss francs in its budget for Somalia, already one of the organization's largest operations worldwide. The move, which brings the budget to a total of over 46 million francs for 2007, comes in response to the urgent needs of those affected by the recent fighting in Mogadishu, including the wounded and those fleeing or attempting to return.

"The fighting follows a year in which Somalia experienced its worst floods in decades, as well as severe drought, armed conflict and widespread lawlessness, all of which has plunged the population into ever deeper poverty, added to its privations and increased its reliance on external aid," said Pascal Hundt, head of the ICRC's delegation for Somalia.

The ICRC has stepped up its relief programmes. A water-trucking operation has been set up to provide 60,000 displaced people and local residents on the outskirts of Mogadishu with safe drinking water for three months. Shelter materials and essential household items are being distributed to 300,000 vulnerable people and full daily food rations for three months will be provided to destitute displaced families in regions across central and southern Somalia. Around 210,000 people should benefit from these rations.

Since the outbreak of major hostilities in December 2006, the ICRC has stepped up its delivery of first-aid and surgical supplies to hospitals and clinics both inside and outside Mogadishu. Some 3,000 war-wounded have been treated so far this year. In the coming weeks, the ICRC plans to further strengthen its support for medical facilities in Mogadishu and in central and southern regions. The organization continues to urge all parties to the conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, and in particular to spare civilians, medical staff and humanitarian workers, including Somali Red Crescent volunteers.

The ICRC has been active in Somalia for the past 30 years and has maintained a delegation for that country in Nairobi since 1994. The organization focuses on providing emergency aid to people directly affected by armed conflict, which is often exacerbated by drought or floods. It also runs an extensive first-aid, medical and health-care programme and works to restore family links through its tracing and Red Cross message services.

The ICRC carries out all its activities in Somalia in close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society. It currently has 15 expatriates and 33 locally recruited staff working in various parts of the country.

For further information, please contact:

Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia,tel. +25420 272 39 63 or +254 722 51 81 42
Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, +25420 272 39 63 or +254 722 512 728
Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 3216
or visit the ICRC website: