Security, peace- and state-building, as well as the drought, were among issues covered in discussions today by the top United Nations officials in Somalia on his visit to the country’s South West State.
In relation to security in that Federal Member State, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, highlighted recent lethal attacks by Al-Shabaab there.
“Please allow me to begin by expressing my condolences on the tragic deaths of South West State’s regional Minister of Justice, Sheikh Hassan Ibrahim, and several other people, including one of his sons, on Friday. Several others were also injured, we wish them a speedy recovery. And this incident of course also followed the death of Merka District Commissioner Abdullahi Ali Wafow for which I also extend condolences,” Mr. Swan said.
According to reports, the minister and others were killed by an explosive device after leaving a mosque last Friday, while the district-level official and several others were killed in a suicide bombing last Wednesday.
The ongoing drought which is affecting millions of Somalis, including many in South West State, figured prominently in the UN officials’ discussions with the Federal Member State’s leadership.
Mr. Swan said that while the situation was an immense challenge, the South West State’s administration and the humanitarian community were doing their utmost to respond to the humanitarian crisis.
“In this respect, we discussed the importance of access to remote areas, as well as the increasing inflows of internally displaced people in Baidoa and other urban centres in South West State. UN agencies are already responding through programmes of cash transfer, nutrition assistance, water and sanitation support and health services,” he said.
“But the situation is dire and more needs to be done,” he added. “To this end, the United Nations continues to advocate with the donor community for the mobilization of more resources to meet this challenge across the country and here in South West State.”
Somalia is facing a fourth consecutive failed rainy season and a heightened risk of famine with eight areas believed to be at risk of famine by September.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the current drought has affected seven million people and displaced more than 800,000 in search of food, water and pasture. Some 7.1 million people – 45 per cent of the population – are acutely food insecure, while an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five face acute malnutrition. At least 200 children have died of malnutrition and disease since January.
This year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia seeks around $1.5 billion to meet the country’s most critical humanitarian needs. So far, only 42.6 per cent of that amount has been received.