NAIROBI, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — A senior UN relief official for Somalia on Wednesday warned against complacency in the wake of a slight improvementin humanitarian response in the Horn Africa nation.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Philippe Lazzarini said the momentum of the humanitarian response in Somalia has to be maintained for a country still recovering from the 2011 famine, which killed over 260,000 people in excess mortality.
“Much of this incremental improvement is due to the rapid and focused actions of humanitarian agencies who responded to early warnings of the potentially poor harvests issued at the end of 2013,” Lazzarini said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
“This softened the impact and helped prevent a worsening of the crisis. Early warnings were translated into early response and saved lives.”
Lazzarini cautioned that the recent improvements could easily be reversed without sustained assistance and noted that agencies are now facing significant funding gaps for 2014.
According to a joint assessment by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), a project managed by UN’s Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), an estimated 857,000 people require urgent humanitarian assistance between now and June.
Compared to six months ago, the number of people projected to be in ‘crisis and emergency’ conditions over the next six months has reduced ever so slightly to 857,000 from 870,000.
The number of Somalis in food security ‘stress’ has also reduced to 2 million people from 2.3 million. The recent figures represent an 18
percent decline since January 2013, but this is a mere 1.5 percent decline since August 2013.
According to Lazzarini, a worrying trend is the increasing levels of severely malnourished children, noting that more than 50, 000 malnourished children are at death’s doorstep.
“Without assistance, that number could double in six months. Lack of access and the loss of key partners prevented essential nutrition services from being delivered,” he said.
Lazzarini warned that if the international community fails to continue to support Somalis in strengthening their resilience, the vulnerable people of Somalia will be at risk of slipping back into the same crisis conditions we know too
“Somalia’s story is as, ever, complex and we must not take improvements for granted. Today’s humanitarian situation is eerily
similar to conditions prior to the famine – numbers are slightly improved but resources are dwindling and access is challenging,” he
“We have warned in the past, and I will again now, this is not the time for complacency,” added Lazzarini.