Somalia: OCHA Fact Sheet - Oct 2008

News and Press Release
Originally published



In a complex emergency, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator plays a critical role in mobilising and coordinating an effective and timely humanitarian response. OCHA facilitates the work of operational agencies that deliver humanitarian assistance to populations and communities in need through coordination, information for decision-making and advocacy. OCHA's mandate is to support this role. Humanitarian coordination is based on the premise that a coherent approach to emergency response will maximise benefits and minimise potential pitfalls, such as duplication or gaps. Through a coordinated response, maximised common strategies and joint responses, are developed. OCHA promotes the respect for, and compliance with humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and "Do no Harm", in particular for the protection of vulnerable civilian populations. Advocacy is a key element to bringing international attention and support to crises but also engagement and commitment by national and local authorities. In this regard, OCHA is particularly vested in securing unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in need of assistance.

Since 2007, Somalia has plunged deeper into humanitarian emergency due to three seasonal failed rains, exacerbated by conflict and continued insecurity especially in the South/Central regions, and in particular, Mogadishu. A widespread economic crisis, including the devaluation of the Somali shilling has also cased a sharp increase in food costs, and thousands of people are unable to afford food. OCHA Somalia has increased efforts to mobilise and coordinate an effective inter-agency humanitarian response. It also expanded its in-country presence, with a total of 12 sub-offices in the three zones of Somaliland, Puntland and South/Central (see map) supported by a central office in Nairobi.

OCHA Somalia in 2008

The number of people in urgent need of food and other humanitarian assistance is (as of October, 2008) a staggering 3.2 million people. This is an increase of 77% since the beginning of 2008, representing approximately 43% of the total population. OCHA's primary focus is to continue facilitating the efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable. OCHA supports the development of local capacity for emergency preparedness and response, and sustaining transitional and early recovery activities where appropriate. OCHA continues to advocate with donors and the international community to support NGOs with start-up funding and capacity building, ensuring that the required expertise and experience are present on the ground in Somalia.

OCHA continues to strengthen its field presence in terms of seniority and breadth of coverage, and reinforce the cluster approach as well as supporting inter-cluster coordination. It works with donors to ensure flexible, reliable funding for NGOs, aiming at building local capacity and increasing operations in underserved areas. More broadly, OCHA advocates for the application of the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality in day-to-day humanitarian operations in order to improve conditions of the provision of assistance and protection.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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