Somalia: UN looks at boosting activities in south

NAIROBI, 21 February (IRIN) - A UN team which recently visited southern areas of Somalia has noted the potential for increased humanitarian activities in those regions.
The team, led by Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, visited the port city of Kismayo in Lower Juba and the town of Jowhar in Middle Shabelle, said Calum McLean of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Kismayo, the team held talks with the local authorities and "assessed the potential for the UN to increase its activities in the Lower Juba region", McLean told IRIN on Friday. UNICEF is currently the only UN agency operating in the region.

Meetings with leaders of the Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) - which controls of the area - as well as with civil society, elders and intellectuals "all gave the impression that the JVA is currently able to maintain a reasonable level of security that would enable increased UN and international NGO activity", he noted.

He also said there was clearly a need for intervention to help some 15,000 internally displaced people in Kismayo.

In Jowhar, the team met the regional governor Muhammad Dheere and also looked at ways of expanding activities there.

"Of particular interest would be the resurrection of a flood management system for Jowhar which has a physical element of helping the administration renovate river flood diversion gates, but would also build capacity to monitor and manage water levels in the Shabelle river," McLean said.

The team also evaluated ways of improving the local airstrip.

For his part, Max Gaylard said he was "very impressed by the extent to which the community is doing things to help themselves".

"For an increased engagement of the UN it is of overriding importance that peace and security are established and maintained," Gaylard stressed.


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