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Somalia requires continued assistance despite gains against famine – UN official

Article / Review by on January 12, 2012 – 10:58 pmNo Comments

Somalia requires continued assistance despite gains against famine – UN official

Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden briefs correspondents. UN Photo/JC McIlwaineHumanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden briefs correspondents. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

The top United Nations relief official in Somalia said today that international humanitarian support last year in the face of drought and famine in the country succeeded in saving numerous lives, but the situation remains fragile, with millions of people in need of continued assistance.

Last July famine was declared in three zones of Somalia and the UN and its partners appealed for $1.5 billion to tackle the crisis.

“The call for assistance in July received a tremendous response and we know that over the last year $1.3 billion was actually raised for Somalia… the majority of which has been spent,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, at a news conference in New York.

“That enabled us to have a tremendous impact on the both the nutritional status and mortality figures facing children and adults across Somalia,” he said.

The $1.5 billion appeal, the highest ever for humanitarian work in Somalia, was to support ongoing relief work in the country last year and to fund programmes to enable those who lost their livelihoods and were displaced from their land to go back and restart their lives afresh.

The “gains are very fragile and require the sustained support and engagement of the international community,” Mr. Bowden said.

He pointed out that last year’s assistance enabled relief organizations to reduce the number of people at risk of outright famine from 750,000 to 150,000 and prevented the spread of diarrhoeal illness and other infectious diseases through large-scale chlorination of water and increased health services.

“So, part of Somalia’s story is a success, but as ever in a place like Somalia success is limited,” said Mr. Bowden. “The fact [that] we managed to reduce the number of people actually classified in famine did not mean that there was no crisis. A lot of people remain in a very precarious situation… where the potential to turn back into famine continues to exist.”

Four million Somalis remain in need of assistance on a regular basis, including food aid, health care and water and sanitation services, according to Mr. Bowden.

“This year in particular we have the responsibility… to make sure that the displaced population… are able to return to their homes, able to return to their lands and able to regain their livelihoods.

“If we don’t we will end up with an increasingly large destitute population in Somalia,” he said, noting that the country already has 1.5 million long-tern internally displaced persons.


Daily Press Briefing and guest: Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia
12 January 2012
By the Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Elements of the Noon Briefing:


It is my pleasure to introduce my guest today Mark Bowden who is the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. He is here to brief you obviously on the situation there and to take your questions.


As you know today is the second anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

You will have seen that we issued a statement last night in which the Secretary-General honoured the memory of the more than two hundred thousand people who perished in the earthquake, including one hundred and two United Nations personnel. He also paid tribute to the Government and people of Haiti who made important strides in rebuilding their country.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General also spoke by telephone with President Martelly and reiterated the United Nations’ continued commitment to accompany the Government and people of Haiti on the path to a secure and prosperous future.

And a few numbers just to underscore the work that has been done in the last two years:

About two-thirds of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) have left the camps.

Fifty per cent of rubble has now been removed.

Some 400,000 Haitians have been provided with short-term employment in labor-intensive projects.

And more children go to school now than before the quake.

The United Nations continues to provide and coordinate humanitarian assistance in Haiti. The World Food Programme (WFP) for example provides food assistance to 1.5 million people. You can find more information on the work of the United Nations in the Report of the United Nations in Haiti 2011, which was just released and is available online.

Also, later today, Anthony Banbury, the Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, will deliver a message on behalf of the Secretary-General during a UN ceremony in Port-au-Prince.


This morning the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on the U.N. African Union Partnership in Peace and Security.

The Secretary-General noted that here at the UN, activities to enhance stability in Africa take up a significant part of the agenda of the Security Council and they are among his leading priorities.

He said that over the last few years, the U.N. has strengthened the partnership with the African Union at the Secretariat level in several concrete ways.

First, the AU-UN Joint Task Force has proven to be an effective mechanism for consultations.

Second, we have revamped our Office in Addis Ababa to further strengthen our cooperation.

Thirdly, our regional offices, peacekeeping operations and special political missions are cooperating closely with the African Union and subregional organizations.

Finally, joint assessment missions have also been essential in ensuring a common understanding of emerging issues.

The Secretary-General said he looked forward to the African Union Summit later this month.


The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged Nigerian national, local, religious and opinion leaders to make a bold and concerted effort to halt the spiralling sectarian violence following a series of recent attacks by the Boko Haram group.

She said it was essential that the country’s leadership, and especially its Muslim and Christian leaders, join forces to unequivocally condemn all violence.

Ms. Pillay also said it was vital that the security forces respect human rights, and avoid excessive use of force, when conducting operations so as not to stoke further tensions and resentment among local inhabitants.

She expressed concern about the recent loss of life during protests over the removal of fuel subsidies, and urged the authorities to carry out transparent independent, impartial and thorough investigations into those events.


I also have an update about the case concerning some of Uruguay’s peacekeepers in the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH.

The Department for Peacekeeping Operations informs us that the Government of Haiti has designated a focal point to liaise with the Uruguayan authorities in order to facilitate the interviews of Haitian nationals, including the alleged victim, by Uruguayan judicial officials.

The UN Secretariat has informed the Permanent Mission of Uruguay of this development and has asked to be kept informed of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.


At 1 p.m., here, there will be a press conference on the Investor Summit on Climate Risk and Energy Solutions.


And finally just to confirm the Secretary-general’s visit to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be leaving later today for a visit to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The visit to Lebanon is at the invitation of both President Sleiman and Prime Minister Mikati.

In Lebanon, the Secretary-General will meet the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament as well as the acting head of the opposition.

The Secretary-General will also visit peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and open a high-level meeting on Arab reforms and democracy organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA, which is based in Beirut.

From Lebanon, the Secretary-General will travel to Abu Dhabi to convene his High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All and attend the World Future Energy Summit. He will highlight the need for sustainable energy policies to provide the world’s growing population with universal energy access, improved energy efficiency, and increasing renewable energy.

In both Beirut and Abu Dhabi, the Secretary-General will have a number of bilateral meetings with visiting leaders.

The Secretary-General will be back in New York on Tuesday.


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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