UN agencies launch humanitarian response to help 3.5 mln Somalis

MOGADISHU, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — The UN agencies on Tuesday launched a prioritized Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2016, seeking 885 million U.S. dollars to reach 3.5 million people in urgent life-saving assistance by the end of this year.

Peter de Clercq, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia who launched the appeal in Mogadishu appealed to the international community to ensure predictable and timely funding.

Clercq said some 4.9 million Somalis require food assistance, noting that the humanitarian community would strive to reduce the figure by 1.7 million.

“We aim to reduce the number of people requiring food assistance from 4.9 million to 3.2 million people and reduce malnutrition prevalence rates by the end of 2016. With adequate support, we can reduce deaths caused by preventable causes,” he told journalists.

The 2016 plan is part of a three-year strategy (2016-2018), which recognizes that the drivers of needs in Somalia are largely cyclical and long-running, and cannot be resolved in a single year.

According to UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the El Nino phenomenon, which affected some 145,000 people in 2015, has also exacerbated the humanitarian situation.

OCHA said through effective cooperation between the Somali government and the international community, including the UN, the impact of El Nino in 2015 could fortunately be curtailed.

An estimated 308,000 children under the age of 5 years are acutely malnourished, with 56,000 of them facing death if not treated.

Somalia Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arteh said the 2016 HRP is an opportunity to strengthen collaboration in addressing both life-saving and long term development needs through existing initiatives, including the New Deal framework.

“Timely funding has a huge impact on cost-effectiveness and appropriateness of response in both cases,” Arteh said.

The maternal mortality ratio for Somalia is among the highest in the world. Some 2.8 million people need improved access to water and 1.7 million children are still out of school.

The UN humanitarian agency said refugees and returnees fleeing the Yemen crisis also continue to arrive in Somalia with almost 30, 000 people received so far and more expected in 2016, as well as returnees from Kenya.

“This has significantly exacerbated the humanitarian needs, along with the El Niño phenomenon that intensified extensive flooding and drought affecting some 145,000 people,” OCHA said.

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