WFP says Al Shabaab frustrating aid efforts

July 24, 2011 3:14 pm
An All Shabaab militant patrolling the streets of Mogadishu

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24-The emergency response by the World Food Program (WFP) is yet to reach 60 percent of the people in Somalia currently faced by acute hunger occasioned by a devastating drought never experienced in the Horn of Africa in decades.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran told journalists in Nairobi on Sunday that the food crisis in Somalia has been worsened due to the insecurity posed by the Al Shabaab, and which is preventing effective provision of emergency relief services.

“More than 60 percent of the population in Somalia has been inaccessible because of the threat from the Al Shabaab but we are seeing a people moving on the road in search of food,” she said.

“We have heard the testimonies of mothers who have children leaving their children along the roads, those who are too weak to make it and some who died,” she explained of a crisis that she said may reach catastrophic levels in the coming weeks.

Ms Sheeran decried the rates of malnutrition in Somalia which, she said, were alarming and many people particularly children are currently starving to death.

“When you have a malnutrition rate of 4O percent then you are dealing with an emergency, 40 percent of the children could die. It has now become a multiple crisis with people moving and getting displaced,”she further explained.

Ms Sheeran however assured that the UN agency would continue to operate where it was possible to do so having lost 14 workers in Somalia since 2008.

She said that WFP will scale up its response in a multi-pronged operation by airlifting food into the capital, Mogadishu, in the coming days to help the thousands of malnourished children who face starvation in the country, two days after Kenyan government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua called on the international community to consider airlifting food to the hunger stricken areas in Somaliland instead of waiting for refugees to walks hundreds of Kilometers into Kenya in search of food.

Lately, statistics released by the Internal Security Ministry last Friday indicate that up to 11,000 Somali refugees are trooping into camps inside Kenya monthly, thus worsening the crisis even more.

“For us speed is of essence in scaling up the special products to curb malnutrition, so we are beginning airlifts to Mogadishu and all the other areas prepared to get the foods,” the WFP chief said Sunday.

“We are considering every thing, airlifting food, dropping foods from aircrafts; we will also work with community leaders and capitalize on any window of opportunity we find to make sure people are reached,” she assured.


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