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World Must Not Forget Somalia, Urges UN Agency

World must not forget Somalia, urges UN agency as humanitarian crisis worsens

27 March 2008 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called on Somalia's international partners to bolster their efforts to alleviate the suffering in the strife-torn East African nation, where close to one million people have been uprooted by fighting and insecurity is hampering humanitarian efforts in some areas.

"The international community must put Somalia at the top of its agenda and press for change before it is too late," said Peter Goossens, WFP's Country Director for Somalia. "We call on all authorities in Somalia to help us reach those in need and urge donors not to give up on this country."

Mr. Goossens stressed the need to urgently scale up efforts on the security and political front, adding that an inclusive political process that leads to true national reconciliation was vital to put a lasting end to conflict since 1991.

"Unless real action to end insecurity is taken very soon, the world is in danger of seeing a whole generation of Somali children growing up having only known war," he said.

So far this year, fighting between government and anti-government forces has caused some 20,000 people to flee their homes in Mogadishu every month. A total of 700,000 people - mostly women and children - escaped from the capital in 2007.

The lack of access to those in Mogadishu was becoming untenable, according to WFP. The city is currently gripped by rising fuel and food prices, which are hitting the poorest families hardest when they were already struggling to survive with few job opportunities, the agency added.

WFP's call comes a day after dozens of aid agencies issued a joint statement warning of an impending catastrophe in the country. They also called for the international community and Somali parties to focus their attention on Somalia –which has not had a functioning government in nearly two decades - and deplored the routine attacks, robberies and killings of aid workers and theft and looting of relief supplies.

Despite the insecurity, WFP continues to provide food daily to some 52,000 people in Mogadishu, and to distribute assistance to those in need outside of the capital. It has recently raised the number of people it expects to feed in Somalia this year to 2.1 million.

To help ensure food for the most vulnerable, WFP is urgently appealing for $10 million, particularly in cash, which it needs between now and July. Unless it receives new contributions, the agency will start running out of pulses in April, cereals and vegetable oil in May and corn-soya blend in June.

ENDS

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