Statement by WFP on situation in Southern Somalia

News and Press Release
Originally published
Rising threats and attacks on humanitarian operations, as well as the imposition a of a string of unacceptable demands from armed groups, have made it virtually impossible for WFP to continue reaching up to one million people in need in southern Somalia.

The World Food Programme's humanitarian operations in southern Somalia have been under escalating attacks from armed groups, leading to this virtual suspension of humanitarian food distribution in much of southern Somalia.

The World Food Programme is deeply concerned about rising hunger and suffering among the most vulnerable due to these unprecedented and inhumane attacks on purely humanitarian operations.

WFP is continuing to provide life saving food distributions in the rest of the country, including the capital, Mogadishu, reaching more than two-thirds of the hungry it has been targeting - or 1.8 million people. In addition, resources and relief workers are being re-deployed from southern areas in the event that people start moving away from areas where food distributions have been suspended.

WFP is an impartial, non-political humanitarian agency that has been working in partnership with the people of Somalia for more than 40 years, providing assistance to the poorest of the poor throughout Somalia's years of conflict and before. The recent pressures on our work from armed groups in southern Somalia are impeding our humanitarian mandate.

WFP is working closely with its partners to pre-position supplies and prepare to provide assistance to any population movements either within Somalia, or across the country's borders into neighbouring countries.

WFP's offices in Wajid, Buale, Garbahare, Afmadow, Jilib and Belet Weyne in southern Somalia are temporarily closed, and food supplies and equipment have been moved, along with staff, to safer areas in order to ensure that food assistance continues to reach as many vulnerable people as possible.

Staff safety is a key concern for WFP and recent attacks, threats, harassment and demands for payments by armed groups have decimated the humanitarian food lifeline, making it virtually impossible to reach up to up to one million woman and children and other highly vulnerable people.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In 2010 WFP aims to feed more than 90 million people in 73 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel + 254 27 622 179, Mob. + 254 733 528 911

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Emilia Casella, WFP Geneva, Tel . +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 792 857304