UN agencies set to start new phase of aid for droughtstricken northern


With no rains anticipated before April in parts of the Sool and Sanaag regions, further losses to livestock and other assets are expected, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is calling for prompt intervention to stem the problem. “The situation is fragile,” UNICEF Somalia Emergency Officer Robert McCarthy said. “Our planning is based on the assumption that children will be increasingly vulnerable to malnutrition and disease in the coming weeks.” He added that nomadic communities which have lost significant numbers of their livestock will require outside food and supplies to survive. Growing tension between the local administrations in Northwest Somalia (‘Somaliland’) and Northeast Somalia (‘Puntland’), both claiming the affected areas as their territory, is creating some concern among humanitarian agencies. UNICEF said operations could be jeopardized or even halted if the situation escalates into violent conflict. In the past, efforts to reach the affected communities – often in remote areas – were possible thanks to cooperation between the two administrations. UNICEF Somalia Senior Programme Officer Leila Pakkala urged that this continue. “We appeal to them to maintain a stable environment and ensure the continuity and effectiveness of response activities,” she said. Failed rains over the past four years have caused large-scale food insecurity among pastoral people in parts of northern Somalia. A joint mission in October, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), found the population hard hit by loss of livestock and purchasing power. In two recent missions, the last ending on 2 January, 10 teams supported by UNICEF and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) visited 72 villages, providing vaccination, clinical and antenatal care, and dry supplementary rations to complement UN World Food Programme (WFP) distributions. Later this week, UNICEF and WFP are set to begin the second phase of food, medical and nutritional interventions.