Baidoa, 19 March 2017 - The UN has opened a drought operations coordination centre in Baidoa, the administrative capital of South West state, to promote effective and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance in the region.
The Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Vincent Lelei presided over the official opening of the centre, which will be instrumental in coordinating humanitarian efforts in the state that has been hardest hit nationwide by the drought.
The centre was opened three weeks after a similar facility was established in Mogadishu.
“The humanitarian crisis in South West state has become the worst in the whole country, particularly in Bay and Bakool and Lower Shabelle,” noted Mr. Lelei.
He explained that the new centre will seek to harmonise humanitarian relief efforts in order to reach all people in need of assistance.
“Priority number two is to work with officials at the regional state and at the district level to make sure our effectiveness is at its best in ensuring that all those who need assistance for water and sanitation, health, food and nutrition are reached very, very quickly,” said Mr. Lelei.
He estimated that nearly 2,000 people in South West State are suffering from cholera today.
“We know that very many children are malnourished, and we need to reach them very quickly,” Mr. Lelei said.
Mohamed Hassan Fiqi, the acting Interim South West Administration president, expressed hope that the centre will boost the level of drought response in the region and reduce the numbers of people dying from hunger and other drought-induced diseases.
“I am pleased today that the discussions we have had with the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq, his deputy Vincent Lelei, humanitarian actors and volunteers, and the UN team in Baidoa, have culminated in the opening of a centre that will address the unique humanitarian needs of the people of South West State,“ Mr Fiqi stated.
The acting ISWA President noted the advantages of establishing a drought operations centre in the epicentre of the ongoing humanitarian crisis instead of a distant national or foreign capital.
“It is a very important step towards ensuring that operational hiccups that could arise from coordinating a response from Nairobi or Mogadishu are eliminated,” he added.
Latest statistics indicate that about 6.2 million people – half the total population in Somalia – are in need of humanitarian aid, and of them almost 3 million are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity.