Hundreds of thousands in need despite good rains

An estimated 900,000 people are still in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia despite the good seasonal rains in 2004/2005, which ended a four-year cycle of drought, the UN has said.

The 26 December Indian Ocean tsunami, which devastated the northeastern Somali coastline, also worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in the region, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in a mid-year review of the inter-agency humanitarian appeal 2005 for Somalia.

"Overall, the extended effects of four years of drought, which adversely impacted livelihoods and coping mechanisms, combined with chronic food insecurity, and more recently flooding has exacerbated the suffering of Somalis," OCHA said.

On top of 500,000 drought-affected people, the report said Somalia had between 370,000 and 400,000 internally displaced persons. Another 12,000 people had been affected by seasonal flooding in the central regions of Hiraan and Middle Shabelle and in the self-declared northwestern republic of Somaliland.

An estimated 44,000 people were affected by the tsunami, many of whom still needed urgent humanitarian assistance, the agency said.

The seasonal Deyr rains of 2004/2005 allowed for the recovery of 200,000 drought-affected people in the country, leading the UN World Food Programme to scale down its estimated needs for protracted relief and rehabilitation from US $45.2 million to $34.5 million. Approximately 64 percent of the funding, the report said, has been sourced.

"The operating environment during the first half of 2005 continued to be characterised by recurrent conflict due to intra and inter-clan fighting, and intermittent access to vulnerable communities," it added.

OCHA said the ability of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to extend its authority on the ground was expected to impact positively on security, create pockets of stability and eventually expand humanitarian space.

The TFG was formed in October 2004 after nearly a-decade-and-a-half of anarchy in Somalia following the overthrow in 1991 of former President Muhammad Siyad Barre.

The Somalia Consolidated Appeals Process had requested some $164,463,170 for 96 projects in 11 sectors this year aimed at addressing the humanitarian, recovery and development needs of an estimated population of approximately seven million people.

The revised appeal, OCHA said, now stood at $162,266,738 to target an estimated 900,000 vulnerable people. As of 10 June, donors had funded approximately 39 percent of the appeal.