Somalia

War on terror is being extended in Somalia - Civilian population in Somalia is threatened by more starvation

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Göttingen, January 05, 2010

The Society for Threatened Peoples STP (Gesellschaft f=FCr bedrohte Völker GfbV) gave warning on Tuesday that the appalling famine in Somalia is likely to become more acute. The enormous increase in fighting between the militia and the regular army and attacks on humanitarian aid-workers are making it increasingly difficult for the civilian population to be fed. The extension of the war on terror in Somalia now announced by the USA and Great Britain is exacerbating the civil=AC war and making the work of the aid agencies more difficult. "It is urgently necessary that the international community provide more funds for the humanitarian care of the people and insist on better protection for the staff of the aid agencies", said the STP Africa consultant, Ulrich Delius. Otherwise thousands of the 3.6 million people dependent on emergency aid in Somalia will be faced with death by starvation.

Although Somalia is one of the three worst trouble spots in the world the international community has been extremely sluggish in providing the aid needed. Barely half of the funds required for the humanitarian aid for the year 2009 have so far been provided. "This means that the chances of preventing the famine to be expected this year are very slim, with the consequence that many thousands of people will be dying", said Delius. "Somalia's civilian population must not be written off by the international community." The people are left powerless as pawns in the power struggle of the warlords and the neighbouring states and in the face of the radical Islamist militia fostering terrorism on an international level.

In the light of the dreadful security situation many aid agencies had to reduce their activities in December 2009. On 28th December 2009 another aid-worker was murdered by unknown persons in the town of Balad Hawo in the south of the country. He was the tenth aid-worker to be murdered in Somalia last year. Ten others are in the hands of hostage-takers. Aid agencies have been threatened on many occasions by the radical Islamist Al-Shabaab militia or told to leave the country.

"The withdrawal of aid-workers means that the gaps in feeding the people are steadily getting larger", reported Delius. Every fifth child is already suffering from acute under-nourishment. Infant mortality is also increasing. Many refugees inside the country have no idea as to how to find food. Hundreds of refugees in the village of Hawo Abdi protested against the suspension of water deliveries by international aid-workers. The refugees came from the capital of Mogadishu, from where at least 123,000 people have fled from the fighting since July 2009. In the past two weeks alone 26 civilians were killed in Mogadishu in mortar attacks on their parts of the city. Altogether about 1,740 civilians were killed in the fighting in 2009.

Ulrich Delius can be reached at asien@gfbv.de