WFP expands Somali relief work

2011-08-14 17:24

Mogadishu - The World Food Programme said on Saturday that it is expanding its food distribution efforts in famine-struck Somalia, where the UN estimates that only 20% of people needing aid are getting it.

Some of those from the outlying regions have walked for days to the capital for help, only for it to be too late.

In the paediatric ward in one of Somalia's best-equipped hospitals, a shrivelled baby lies motionless on a crowded ward; a doctor said he weighs less than he did at birth. Doctors push a feeding tube down the nose of a skeletal 3-year-old, his body covered in sores.

Mothers lay their babies between the cots on the floor because there are no beds left.

Banadir hospital lacks equipment, nutritional supplements and even beds, but its a refuge most of the families here have walked for miles to get to, carrying children who got weaker by the hour.

Many arrive too late to be saved; both Ali Abukar, the baby, and Ibrahim Abukar Abdi, the 3-year-old, died shortly after the Associated Press spoke to their mothers.

That's why aid agencies urgently need to increase their efforts to reach families beyond the Somali capital, said Valerie Amos, the UN's top humanitarian official, on Saturday. Wastelands in the battle-scarred capital are being transformed into makeshift camps as families move in and set up shelters, hoping for help.

"We have to start getting aid out to them to avoid a massive influx of people into the city," she said.

Islamists forbid aid

The UN estimates that 2.8 million Somalis need food aid, and 2.2 million of them live outside the capital in areas controlled by Islamist rebels, who have forbidden many aid agencies to work in their territory, including the UN's World Food Programme.

But WFP is already getting aid to some areas in southern Somalia that had been inaccessible a month ago, said one official.

"We are expanding our activities in Mogadishu and we are looking to dramatically increase those activities over the coming days and weeks as the security situation in the city permits," said Stanlake Samkange, the WFP regional director in East and Central Africa.

More aid was getting to southern Somalia as well, he said.

But it's hard enough to distribute aid in the capital, controlled by pro-government forces with the help of 9 000 African Union troops. At least 10 people have died this month in shoot outs when aid agencies attempted to distribute bags of maize or grain, and competing militias fought over the site. Much of the food ended up being looted.

For now, the UN's World Food Programme is trying to discourage the looting by serving hot meals at designated sites, where families can come with jerry cans or buckets. The food can't be stored so it's less attractive to looters, but it's also a labour intensive process and means families have to wait in line for hours every day.

Amos said one possible solution was deploying more Somali police officers to the sites. There are around 3 000 Somali police who have undergone a three-month training course sponsored by the European Union.

She also said that AU troops might be able to help secure areas, but said they were currently over-stretched securing areas of the city vacated by the Islamists. The rebels withdrew from their bases in the capital a week ago. 

Profit from misery

The move was the biggest territorial gain for the UN-backed government in four years and Samkange said it could help expand humanitarian access.

Tens of thousands of people are feared to have died in the famine, caused by war in Somalia and drought in the Horn of Africa - Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia. More than 12 million people in the region need food aid, according to the United Nations.

But Amos said there were already worrying signs that people were seeking to profit from the misery. Some Somali businessmen were encouraging people to settle on their land, and then demanding compensation, she said.

"They're looking for some form of payment from people who have nothing," she said. The only thing most displaced families would have to offer would be food aid - if they are lucky enough to get some.

"We spoke to the prime minister about the problem of these gatekeepers," said Amos. The Somali government had also promised to provide more police, she said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    wfp  |  somalia  |  east africa hunger
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 20:17 PM
    Road name: MetroRail
    Due to extensive vandalism on the Central Line a limited Bus Service will operate between Nyanga/Chris Hani and Nyanga/Kapteinsklip - EXPECT DELAYS
  • Wednesday Montague Gardens - 19:58 PM
    Road name: Montague Drive
    ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - expect DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.