Kenya, January 8, 2011 – The top United Nations envoy for Somalia on
Thursday urged that restrictions on aid delivery, partly owing to a
rejection of Western assistance by Islamic militants, be lifted so that
those who need help amid an impending drought can receive it.
The Horn of Africa nation is already facing a dire humanitarian crisis
in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 percent of the population, is
in need of aid.
This situation is likely to be compounded by the impending drought,
which is already having a severe impact on the lives of people and
livestock, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In an update issued last week, OCHA noted that the harsh dry season
continues to affect many parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and
Augustine Mahiga, the UN secretary-general's special representative for
Somalia, who just visited the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday,
said the drought is just beginning but it is going to increase, and that
people in some of the areas controlled by Al-Shabaab Islamic militants
are demanding that international assistance be allowed to reach them, UN
officials said here Thursday.
"The only answer to hunger is to get food," he stated in an interview
with UN Radio, adding that food is available but it is being denied to
the population by the various restrictions.
While some of the restrictions stem from insecurity, there also seems to
be an "ideological rejection" of assistance from Western countries by
"We hope there will be a relaxation of this restriction to avert what is
an impending crisis and a catastrophe of really serious proportions,"
Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government since 1991,
has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more
recently with Al-Shabaab.
While in Mogadishu, Mahiga met with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
as well as Prime Minister Mohamed Abdillahi Mohamed, with whom he
discussed the road map prepared by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Under the Transitional Federal Charter, the interim authority's mandate
is set to expire this August. Several tasks remain to be completed such
as continuing initiatives on reconciliation, building civilian and
security institutions and the completion of the constitution-making