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Somalia: Situation Report No. 37 – 19 Sep 2008

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Key Overall Developments

Canadian naval escorts for World Food Programme’s (WFP) food shipments end on 27 September 2008. No country has yet pledged to take over at this critical period when more Somalis than ever need life-saving food aid at a time when there has been a sharp increase in piracy off the Somali coast (a total of seven hijackings in August alone and more than 50 so far this year). About 90% of WFP food shipment to Somalia goes by sea. On Monday 15 September, the European Union agreed to set-up a coordination unit in Brussels to support European surveillance activities off the Somali coast.

In August and September, an increasing number of asylum-seekers (mainly Somalis) arrived on the Yemeni coast. A new wave of smuggling has started up as seasonal storms in the Gulf of Aden have subsided. On 11 September, at least 29 migrants drowned after smugglers forced passengers to jump out of a crowded boat. Again on 15 September, more than 50 people were feared to have drowned after a similar incident.

According to UNHCR, more than 28,000 people, including 19,071 Somalis, have taken the dangerous sea journey to Yemen so far this year. At the same time last year, 16,000 people had made the crossing; the number of those crossing has almost doubled in 2008.

From the start of 2008 to 15 September, 45,911 refugees had been registered in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya, of which 43,879 (96%) had arrived from Somalia. There are also some 6,000 persons awaiting registration, a majority of whom arrived over the last 2-3 weeks.

Insecurity in South Central continues to undermine humanitarian activities. Two WFP staff were abducted on 14 September in Qalimo village (30km south of Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region), and were later released the same day. The motive for the abduction was not clear. On 13 September, an armed group attacked and looted a truck loaded with food aid commodities for the cooked meals programme in Mogadishu implemented by the NGO SAACID. With interventions from community elders some of the food items were later recovered.

However, the incident resulted in the closure of nine of the sixteen kitchen centres in Mogadishu for one day. Some 70,000 to 80,000 cooked meals a day are provided by these kitchens.

The International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia met for the first time under the chairmanship of the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, on 16 September in Djibouti. The ICG condemned the continuing violence in Somalia which overwhelmingly affects civilians, particularly women and children. It also condemned all attacks against humanitarian workers and called on the parties to the conflict to immediately cease hostilities and allow free and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

According to the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation, nearly 9,500 civilians have been killed in Somalia since early 2007. Of these, 838 were killed between June and August this year.

Response and gaps

This week, WFP distributed 741 mt of mixed food commodities to 7,100 women participating in sanitation projects through its food for work programme implemented in the 16 districts of Mogadishu. The programme resumed two weeks ago after it was temporarily suspended following a blast on 3 August in which approximately 25 women were reportedly killed and over 40 injured. Through the cooked meals programme in Mogadishu, WFP distributed a total of 248 mt of food to 349,735 beneficiaries last week. WFP also dispatched 1,080 mt of assorted food commodities for distribution to 68,530 beneficiaries in various regions.

UNICEF reported that 142,654 children between the ages of nine months to 15 years were vaccinated against measles in the latest campaign carried out in Mogadishu and Afgooye IDP settlements between 27 August and 4 September 2008. The campaign was implemented by a local NGO, Jumbo Peace and Development Organization, in collaboration with local communities, and targeted about 95% of the total population under 15. Measles is a serious public health problem in Somalia and a significant cause of childhood death. Somalia has one of the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the world at 86 per 1000 children and 135 per 1000 live births respectively. Routine measles vaccination coverage is only about 19% for the whole country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), distributed Non-Food Items (NFIs) to 60,000 IDPs in 10 of the 16 districts in Mogadishu. The NFI kit consists of one tarpaulin, one kitchen set, two blankets, one jerry can, two sets of adult clothes, two set of children’s clothes and one sleeping mat. As the remaining districts still need NFI interventions, ICRC is calling upon other humanitarian agencies operating in Mogadishu to fill this gap. In Buale, Middle Juba region, ICRC distributed essential household items and tarpaulins benefiting 1,100 IDP families. Another 1,100 and 1,000 families in Sakow, Middle Juba and Diinsoor, Bay region, also benefited from the same kit.

Save the Children UK (SCUK), continues to deliver more than 2 million litres/day of water to 87,318 IDPs and residents (14,553 households) in and around Belet Weyne. Each person is getting at least five litres of water per day. The project which will run for 30 days is supported by the Humanitarian Response Fund. In addition, SCUK distributed soap to 9,323 households as well as 299,880 aqua-tabs used for purifying drinking water to prevent waterborne diseases. Another 56,000 households benefited from the provision of water treatment chemicals. SCUK is also constructing at least 333 latrines that will benefit 18,176 IDPs in and around Belet Weyne.

Concern World Wide this week distributed US$ 100 to 151 families in Marka that were affected by last week’s torrential rains that fell in parts of Banadir and Lower Shabelle regions. The Cholera control task force met during the week and will launch well chlorination and social mobilization campaigns to prevent disease outbreaks.

For further Information in English, Contact: Rita Maingi on 254 734 800 120 – maingi@un.org,
In Somali, contact Mona Mohamed on 0733 643 737 – mohamed26@un.org
Website address:http://ochaonline.un.org/somalia

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