Statement by 52 non-governmental organizations working in Somalia on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis
We, the undersigned NGOs, are extremely concerned about the devastating humanitarian crisis in Somalia.
Nearly half of Somalia’s population, or 3.25 million people, are now in need of emergency aid. This is a 77% increase since the beginning of 2008. This number has increased dramatically over the past year due to the destructive combination of extreme insecurity, drought and record-high food prices. The situation is expected to deteriorate further with ordinary Somalis bearing the brunt of the cost.
Despite the ongoing political process we have not witnessed any lessening of the violence that continues to have a horrendous impact on civilians.
In the last few weeks, renewed shelling in Mogadishu has displaced approximately 37,000 civilians from their homes. Over the past nine months, 870,000 have fled for their lives. A total of 1.1 million people are currently displaced in Somalia today.
We are appalled by the indiscriminate and disproportional use of force by all armed parties to the conflict, which is further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
The poorest of Mogadishu’s residents have no means to flee the extreme violence and have limited means to earn a living leaving them completely dependent on humanitarian assistance. This while the average Somali has seen price increases for food and water of up to 1,000 percent, plunging many into worsening poverty. One in six children under five, or approximately 180,000 children, is acutely malnourished in South and Central Somalia.
Aid workers are increasingly the victims of assassination and kidnapping and are now seen as legitimate targets. This year alone 24 aid workers, of which 20 are Somali nationals, have been killed whilst carrying out their work. The whereabouts of another ten are unknown. There have been 111 reported security incidents directly targeting aid agencies.
National and international aid agencies are prevented from responding effectively to the needs of ordinary Somalis because of violence and severely limited access. At present, South and Central Somalia is almost entirely off limits to international staff of aid agencies.
We call upon all parties to the conflict to allow aid agencies unhindered access to Somalis who are in desperate need of emergency assistance.
The international community has completely failed Somali civilians. We call on the international community to make the protection of Somali civilians a top priority now.
Signatories to the statement (52 National and International NGOs):
- ADRA - Adventist Relief Development Agency
- AET – Africa Educational Trust
- AFREC – Africa Rescue Committee
- ASEP – Advancement for Small Enterprise Program
- CARE – Cooperative Assistance for Relief Everywhere
- CARITAS SWITZERLAND & CARITAS LUXUMBOURG
- CEFA – Somalia European Committee for Agricultural Training
- CISP – Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli
- CPD Centre for Peace and Democracy
- COOPI – Cooperazione Internazionale
- DEVELOPMENT CONCERN
- DRC - Danish Refugee Council
- DIAKONIA EMERGENCY AID BREAD FOR THE WORLD
- DIAKONIA Sweden
- FERO – Family Economy Rehabilitation Organization
- GHC – Gedo Health Consortium
- GREDO – Gol Yome Rehabilitatation & Development Organisation
- HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
- HAPO CHILD – Hiran HIV/AIDS Prevention and Child Protecton Organisation
- HARDO – Humanitarian Action for Relief and Development Organisation
- HIMILO – Himilo Relief and Development Association
- HORN RELIEF
- IAS – International Aid Services
- IDF – Integrated Development Focus
- IMC – International Medical Corps
- INTERPEACE/WSP – Interpeace / War torn Societies
- IRC – International Rescue Committee
- IREX – International Research & Exchanges Board
- ISLAMIC RELIEF
- KAALO RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT
- MAG – Mines Advisory Group
- MERCY CORPS SOMALIA
- NORWEGIAN CHURCH AID
- NRC – Norwegian Refugee Council
- OXFAM INTERNATIONAL
- PROGRESSIO UK
- RI – Relief International
- SAACID AUSTRALIA
- SCUK – Save the Children UK
- TERRA NUOVA – Terra Nuova Association for International Cooperation to Development
- VSF SUISSE – Veterinaires Sans Frontieres - Switzerland
- VSF GERMANY - Veterinaires Sans Frontieres - Germany
- WOCCA – Women and Child Care Organization
- WORLD CONCERN
- WORLD VISION
NGOs working on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Somalia have issued two previous statements calling attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country. In October 2007 and in April 2008. Please see statements below. The UN has described the security situation in Somalia as the worst the country has experienced since the early 1990s. The UN’s FSAU has described the level of human suffering and deprivation in Somalia as “shocking” (FSAU). The humanitarian crisis:• The UN’s Food Security and Analysis Unit (FSAU) for Somalia announced that the magnitude and speed at which the Somalia crisis is deteriorating is ‘alarming and profound.’ • The number of people in need of emergency assistance in Somalia has risen by more that 77% since January to 3.25 million people (or 43% of the country) (FSAU). • This number includes 870,000 people who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and insecurity since the start of 2007 (there are 1.1m IDPs across Somalia). 37,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mogadishu since the 21st September (FSAU & UNHCR). • Over 1.3 million people in rural communities are in need (FSAU). • Over 700,000 people in urban areas are in need. The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is dramatically worsening due to a combination of three main factors:1. Extreme and worsening insecurity – also severely limiting access to those in need by aid agencies. 2. Drought is deepening and spreading throughout Central and parts of Southern Somalia – caused by the fourth consecutive rainy season failure. 3. Hyperinflation causing record-high food and water prices that have increased by up to 1600%. Other indicators• One in six children under five (approx.180, 000) are thought to be acutely malnourished in Southern and Central Somalia. 26,000 are severely malnourished – needing immediate treatment. The numbers are increasing (FSASU). • Prices for imported and locally produced foods are at record-high levels in Somalia. Over the past 18 months, hyperinflation has led to price increases for food and basic non-food items by up to 1000% (FSAU). • Among the coping mechanism identified by IDPs in reports to UNHCR in August were: forced prostitution ((identified again in Afgooye), Bossaso, Mogadishu, and Dhuusamarreeb), reducing the number of meals per day, reducing food quality, joining a militia for payment/employment (identified in a small number of reports from IDPs fleeing Mogadishu and Elasha). Relying on humanitarian assistance for support was identified most often as the coping / survival mechanism by IDPs in reports to UNHCR in August. • Only 30 percent of school age children are enrolled in school (countrywide) according to the Somalia Education Cluster. Schools in Mogadishu shut down for three days in a protest against insecurity and attacks targeting schools. Access• The UN has stated that the level of insecurity in Somalia is limiting humanitarian space by the day (OCHA).• 24 aid workers have been killed inside Somalia since January – 20 of them Somali nationals (NGO Security Preparedness and Support Project (NGO SPAS)). The whereabouts of ten other aid workers remains unknown.• There have been 111 security-related incidents directly affecting NGOs since the start of January. Another 28 incidents have affected NGOs indirectly. The vast majority of the incidents are taking place in South and Central regions (NGO SPAS). • Numerous obstacles continue to limit access to those in need by aid agencies: assassinations, kidnappings, prohibitive demands at checkpoints, the targeting of aid assets – like food and other items intended for delivery to people in need, carjackings (there have been nearly 40 this year).• There are currently over 300 checkpoints in South Central Somalia – limiting access to those in need. • Somalis trying to find safety continue to try and cross to Yemen over the Gulf of Aden. In September, more than a 100 Somalis seeking security died while attempting this journey. Piracy• Between 1st Jan – 31st August 2008, 32 ships were hijacked off the coast of Somalia. • Canadian ships are currently providing naval escorts for WFP food shipments. In a recent decision Canada decided to extend the naval escorts to 23 October.• Since November 2007, a succession of international navies including Canadian, Dutch, Danish and French, have been escorting WFP ship destined for Somalia. • On 2 October EU Defence Ministers decided to establish an anti-piracy security operation off the coast of Somalia. A number of EU member states have expressed an interest to take part. An official decision is expected on 10 November.