Somalia: ICRC Bulletin No. 01/2009 - ICRC boosts aid

Drought, floods and the effects of 17 years of armed violence and lawlessness have driven much of the Somali population into destitution. The ICRC has been providing hundreds of thousands of Somalis with food, water and other aid.

General situation

The ICRC is one of the few organizations that can reach conflict-affected communities in remote areas. In partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society and in coordination with other aid agencies, the ICRC has been increasing its emergency humanitarian aid to respond to the urgent need for food and other essentials such as shelter.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis are still unable to feed themselves without outside support. "Food security remains a major concern. The January harvest will not immediately reduce food-aid dependency," said Mathias Frese, ICRC relief coordinator for Somalia. "Low purchasing power, increasingly stagnant trade and continued displacement due to armed conflict will keep the number of food-aid beneficiaries at or near the current high level."

In December, the ICRC delivered full food rations to 435,000 people in the country. In addition, it supplied blankets, shelter materials, clothing, kitchen sets and other items to some 60,000 people displaced by the conflict or affected by the recent floods in Lower Shabelle.

Support for hospitals

Urban warfare continues to result in heavy civilian casualties and to compound the woes of a population already suffering from nearly two decades of armed violence.

As part of its comprehensive health programme in Somalia, the ICRC has provided support for many years for two surgical referral hospitals: Keysaney Hospital, which is managed by the Somali Red Crescent, in north Mogadishu and Medina Hospital in the southern part of the city. Both treat field casualties and handle other medical emergencies. Both accept patients from all backgrounds, regardless of their clan, religion or political opinions. Since October, the two hospitals have treated more than 500 casualties of the fighting, nearly half of them women and children.

"The only way to mitigate the suffering of the Somali people and to improve their living conditions in the long run is for all parties involved in the fighting to respect their lives and dignity," said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC Somalia delegation.

Improving water resources

With the arrival of the rainy season, the ICRC water-trucking operation has come to an end. ICRC water engineers are once again focusing on repairing and upgrading existing water points. Despite limited access to project sites, the engineers are trying hard to maintain a high standard of work at boreholes, hand-dug wells and rainwater catchments in the Sool, Galgadug, Lower Shabelle, Gedo and Bakool areas. The water points currently being upgraded are essential for the survival of an estimated 92,000 people.

Four water projects benefiting around 16,000 people were completed in December. The ICRC also continued to support the Somali Red Crescent in its efforts to upgrade clinics and hospitals.

The ICRC in Somalia

The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. It focuses on providing emergency aid topeople directly affected by armed conflict, oftenin combination with natural disasters, and runsextensive first-aid, medical and basic health careprogrammes to treat the wounded and sick. It also carries out agriculturaland water projects designed to improvethe economic security of vulnerable communitiesover the medium term. It works closely withand supports the development of the SomaliRed Crescent Society.

For further information, please contact:

Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia, tel. +254 20 272 3963 or +254 722 518 142
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 32 17

or visit our website: