Statement by 52 non-governmental organisations working in Somalia

Posted by Medeshi on 12 Oct, 2008
Statement by 52 non-governmental organisations working in Somalia on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country

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.

Andrea Pattison – Oxfam International (Nairobi based)
Mob: +254 736 476 514

Robert Maletta – Oxfam International (Nairobi based but currently in the US)
+254 735678890

Susannah Friedman – Save the Children UK (Nairobi based)
Mob: +254 7336 28192

Rosemary Heenan – Trocaire (Nairobi based)
+254 720218674

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
CEFA – Somalia European Committee for Agricultural Training
CISP – Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli
CPD Centre for Peace and Democracy
COOPI – Cooperazione Internazionale
DRC - Danish Refugee Council
FERO – Family Economy Rehabilitation Organization
GHC – Gedo Health Consortium
GREDO – Gol Yome Rehabilitatation & Development Organisation
HAPO CHILD – Hiran HIV/AIDS Prevention and Child Protecton Organisation
HARDO – Humanitarian Action for Relief and Development Organisation
HIMILO – Himilo Relief and Development Association
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
MAG – Mines Advisory Group
NRC – Norwegian Refugee Council
RI – Relief International
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

Notes to editors:
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.

· 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.

· 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.

NGO Joint statement in October 2007:
“There is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in South Central Somalia. Tens of thousands of people are currently fleeing violence in Mogadishu adding to the up to 335,000 people already needing immediate lifesaving assistance in Mogadishu and the Shabelle regions.”

“International and National NGOs cannot respond effectively to the crisis because access and security are deteriorating dramatically at a time when needs are increasing.”

“The international community and all parties to the present conflict have a responsibility to protect civilians, to allow the delivery of aid and to respect humanitarian space and the safety of humanitarian workers.”

NGO Joint statement in April 2008:
On Oct. 30, 2007, 39 NGOs warned of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Somalia and an impending humanitarian catastrophe. Since then, the crisis engulfing Somalia has deteriorated dramatically while access to people in need continues to decrease; 360,000 people have been newly displaced and an additional half a million people are reliant on humanitarian assistance.

There are now more than one million internally displaced people in Somalia. Intense conflict in Mogadishu continues to force an average of 20,000 people from their homes each month. This, combined with record high food prices, hyperinflation and drought in large parts of the country is leaving communities struggling to survive. Extreme water and food shortages are expected to worsen across the country if the seasonal rains (April - June) fail as they are predicted to.

As the crisis worsens, Somali and international aid agencies are unable to respond adequately to the needs. Attacks on, and killings of, aid workers, the looting of relief supplies, and a lack of respect for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict have left two million Somalis in need of basic humanitarian assistance.

For too long, the needs of ordinary Somalis have been forgotten. The undersigned agencies are asking the international community and all parties to the conflict to urgently focus their attention on the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Somalia. They must ensure access for humanitarian supplies, live up to their responsibility to protect civilians and address the environment of impunity. The humanitarian crisis will become more and more complex and will continue to deepen in the absence of a political solution to the current crisis.