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UNDP warns precarious food situation
in Somali in wake of drought  

UNITED NATIONS Somali (Xinhua) -- The UN Development Program (UNDP) on Tuesday warned that the food security situation in Somali “remains precarious for millions of Somalis, following the fifth consecutive year of drought.”

According to the agency, an estimated 6.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, and the number of people living in pre-famine emergency conditions has increased from 80,000 people in January to 800,000 in December this year.

In addition, one million people have been displaced so far this year due to drought and conflict, thereby doubling the number of internally displaced people.

The economic loss caused by the drought is estimated at more than three billion U.S. dollars, and UNDP estimates that 1.7 billion U.S. dollars are required over the next three to five years to boost infrastructure, management of water resources, efforts to increase agricultural production and the expansion of urban services.

Following three consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, drought conditions persist across most of Somalia. An estimated 3.3 million people are currently facing acute food insecurity, according to the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.



Terrible famine avoided in Somolia: UN official

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- A UN official on Tuesday said that a combination of early action by the government and the United Nations, a speedy response from international donors and a massive scaling-up of assistance have avoided a bad famine in Somalia.

George Conway, UN Development Program Country Director for Somalia, speaking by phone from Mogadishu to a press briefing here in Geneva that the drought occurred in 2017 was worse than that of 2011, when famine had killed 250,000 people, but “this time famine had been avoided through”.

At the beginning of 2017, the UN had issued a famine alert for Somalia and the president of the country had declared a national disaster. Since then, the Somalian government and its partners had been providing emergency assistance to 3 million people every month, he said.

The government had also been taking concrete steps to find ways to break the cycle of recurrent humanitarian emergencies and to take concerted action to prevent future drought situations turning into famines, the official added.

“Progress in the State- and institution-building agenda over the past five years, including more effective governance institutions and investment in stabilizing key regional capitals, had enabled a more robust response than had been possible in 2011,” he noted.

Nevertheless, the UN official said, the situation remained very serious for millions of Somalis following the failure of the rainy season for the fifth consecutive year.

An estimated 6.2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, and the number of people considered to be living in pre-famine emergency conditions had increased this year from 80,000 people in January to 800,000 in December.

“During 2017, an additional 1 million people had been displaced due to drought and conflict, thereby doubling the number of internally displaced people in Somalia,” he said.

In response to questions from journalists, the UN official said that the humanitarian response requirement for Somalia for 2018 amounted to 1.5 billion US dollars, which was comparable to the amount that had been estimated for 2017.


U.S. conducts fresh drone attack on al-Shabaab in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- United States forces early Tuesday conducted an airstrike in Somalia on Al-Shabaab militants, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said.

No civilian was killed in the drone strike, which was carried out in coordination with the Somali government and targeted an al-Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, about 65km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, Africom said.

“This strike supports our partner forces by removing an imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu,” Africom said in a statement.  “We assess no civilians were killed in the strike.”

U.S. forces have carried out a series of drone strikes in the past months in Somalia, targeting Islamist State and al-Shabaab fighters as the Africa Union peacekeeping mission prepares to exit the country.

Local forces and those of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have also intensified military operations against the insurgents, flushing them in their Lower and Middle Shabelle region bases, amid an expected pullout of 1,000 African Union troops by the end of December.


Somali journalist killed in Mogadishu car blast

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A Somali journalist was killed by a bomb in capital city Mogadishu Monday, the national journalists’ union confirmed Tuesday.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed, a news presenter for Kalsan TV, died in the hospital after a bomb concealed in his car went off. He was the fifth journalist to be killed in Somalia this year.

“It is a tragic death,”said Osman Abdullahi Gure, a member of Kalsan TV’s management team.

NUSOJ Secretary General Mohamed Moalimuu condemned the murder and called for an investigation into the attack.

“We demand the killers be brought to justice,” Moalimuu said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.


UNFPA secures 3.5 mln USD to cut maternal mortality in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said Monday it has secured 3.5 million U.S. dollar grant for reduction of maternal mortality in Somalia.

UNFPA Representative Nikolai Botev said the funding from Italy is fundamental in contributing to Somalia’s social and human development, particularly in the National Development Plan (NDP) areas of health, youth, gender and resilience capacity building.

“Women, youth and populations affected by the humanitarian crisis will be the programs primary targets,” Botev said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

He said the funding will support UNFPA’s new Country Programme for Somalia over the period 2017-2020.

It will also support Somalia’s efforts in reducing maternal deaths, unmet need for birth spacing, and ending violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

Botev reiterated UNFPA’s commitment to supporting increased availability and use of integrated sexual and reproductive health services with a focus on maternal and newborn health.

According to UNFPA, millions of women in Somalia remain at great risk during pregnancy and childbirth.


UN, AfDB seek to improve sanitation services in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN migration agency said Tuesday it has launched a project to improve access to water and sanitation services in rural areas of Somalia.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the three-year project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) aims to reduce infant and child mortality caused by water-borne diseases.

“This project endeavors to improve the quality of life for an estimated 175,000 Somalis. As solutions to sustainable water provision and infrastructure are developed, other socio-economic activities will also flourish,” IOM Somalia Chief of Mission Dyane Epstein said in a statement.

“This includes the rearing of livestock, which remains the main source of livelihoods for the majority of this project’s beneficiaries,” Epstein said.

According to the UN, about 6.2 million people need humanitarian assistance in Somalia, due to the failure of consecutive rainy seasons and the ongoing conflict.

The dire humanitarian situation has led to massive displacement and disease outbreaks as many families have been forced to live in congested settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs), often without basic services.

The IOM said the project strives to strengthen sustainable water solutions and increase the technical capacity of local administrations to operate and maintain water infrastructure.

IOM said its also conducting intensive hygiene and sanitation promotion activities within at-risk communities, having reached an estimated 563,000 people with behavioural change messages between January and October



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