Somalia: UNCT Somalia Monitor 6-19 March, 3/25/99

Somalia: UNCT Somalia Monitor 6-19 March, 3/25/99

The UNCT Somalia Monitor, 6-19 March 1999

Humanitarian Update

1. Seed distribution for farmers in southern and central Somalis going on smoothly but the total seed aid is not adequate: 1,000 MT shortage remains. 2. Malnutrition rates very high among children in Qansadheere. 3. 115 Somali refugees fleeing fighting southern Somalia arrive at Mombasa, Kenya. 4. New steps in educational cooperation between Somalis. 5. A new primary education programme is launched in Nugal region. 6. Rift valley fever is virtually 'nil', a joint statement by WHO and FAO clarifies. 7. Cholera Update

1. Distribution of seeds continues smoothly as the primary 'gu' season rains start

The UN agencies and NGOs continue to mitigate the emergency in central and southern Somalia. Substantial amounts of food aid and emergency medical supplies have already been distributed to the vulnerable groups in Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions. Currently, the humanitarian agencies are distributing some 1,000 metric tonnes (MT) of seeds to enable the vulnerable farms to plant for the main 'gu' season, as rains are already pounding in many parts of the country. An additional 1,000 MT is needed but donor contributions were not received. Although the rains herald good news for the farmers and herders, they constitute a problem for the estimated 30,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) subsisting Gedo and Juba valley. They will need shelter materials for themselves.

2. Malnutrition levels among children in Qansadheere is deteriorating

UNICEF in collaboration with the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) conducted a quick nutritional survey in Qansadheere town in Bay region and its surrounding during the second week of February. It was determined that the level of malnutrition found in the areas was 32 percent, including 10 percent acute malnutrition, using middle upper arm circumference (MUAC) and oedema as indicators amongst children less than 5 years of age. The situation is worse than expected. In addition, the malnutrition levels are likely to be even higher amongst the poorer groups, including the IDPs. Possible causes of the high malnutrition include low household stocks following the 1998 'gu' harvest, gradual erosion of normal coping mechanisms, and difficulties which the high-risk groups face in obtaining access to food aid.

3. 115 Somali refugees arrived at Mombasa; six perish in Yemen

On 14 March, a group of 115 Somali refugees fleeing renewed factional violence in the southern port town of Kismayo arrived at Mombassa aboard a leaky dhow, Kenyan port officials reported. The asylum seekers were registered by officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for onward transportation to Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya. Officials from the government of Kenya and the humanitarian community expressed concern over the new arrivals of refugees. The renewed conflict in Kismayo and its surrounding also made an unknown number of civilians displaced within the Juba valley region. In February, as many as 50 people died and nearly 100 were injured when fighting spilled over into Kismayo town. As the conflict continues, the area remained highly dangerous for humanitarian agencies to operate, and movement of civilians remained extremely restricted, causing the price of essential commodities to rise and the purchasing power of the people to erode.

In another development, at least six Somali refugees, including three children, died when fire broke out and destroyed a section of Jahima refugee camp in Yemen on 13 March. The fire reportedly started from a hurricane lamp left unattended inside one of the camp shacks. The camp shelters refugees from Somalia and other war-torn countries in the Horn of Africa.

4. New steps in cooperation between Somalis

On 10 March, senior representatives of the Puntland State of Somalia and the Benadir Regional Council signed an agreement to cooperate for the development of a joint curriculum and materials for primary education. This agreement, which was witnessed by UNICEF, EC Somalia and UNESCO, constitutes a major breakthrough for collaborative action for educational development and for providing textbooks to all the children of Somalia.

5. A new primary education programme is launched in Nugal region

The United Nations Education and Science Organisation (UNESCO-PEER) formally launched the second phase of their Primary Education Programme, a two-year programme funded by the European Commission (EC), for the Nugal region. The project will provide for the physical rehabilitation of primary schools and the setting-up of sustainable education systems. The project follows the successful implementation of phase I, a one-year programme also funded by the EC to rehabilitate 14 primary schools and to establish an Education Development Centre in Garowe to coordinate these educational activities.

6. Risk of Rift Valley Fever is virtually 'nil' in Horn of Africa, say WHO and FAO Rome/Alexandria (Egypt), 5 March 1999.

The risk of infection with the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) virus, for both humans and animals, has been reduced to minimal or negligible proportions in the countries of the Horn of Africa, after an epidemic lasting from October 1997 to March 1998 in Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, a joint statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

The four countries are now in a better than normal situation with regard to RVF and other diseases transmitted through insects to humans and animal, including malaria in humans; a remarkable improvement due to both favorable climatic conditions and immunity developed by a large proportion of livestock infected with the disease in 1997-98, the joint WHO/FAO statement underlined.

"Remote sensing satellites data of climatic conditions fully support ground observations that conditions in the Horn of Africa countries are highly unfavourable for multiplication of mosquito vectors of the RVF virus. Therefore, the risk of a RVF epidemic occurring soon is virtually nil," the two UN agencies said. "Climatic conditions in the four countries since mid-1998 returned to normal or below normal rainfall amounts and crop-growing conditions. Flooding which would allow multiplication of mosquitoes has not occurred. Thus the risk of humans or livestock being infected with RVF has returned to historically low levels." Regarding the export of livestock by the countries of the horn of Africa, the joint WHO/FAO statement said: "The present extremely low risk of RVF infection in livestock is comparable to the risk in former years that permitted the safe export of livestock." "The chance of exported livestock being infected with RVF virus and transmitting the disease to humans is at or below the historically extreme low levels that allowed safe export of livestock in the past," the joint statement emphasized.

"The risk may actually be lower than in the past years," not only because the above mentioned climatic factors are highly unfavourable for mosquito multiplication (therefore virus transmission is negligible), but also because "a large proportion of the livestock are immune after being infected in 1997-98 and there is no risk of such livestock transmitting the disease to humans or other animals," the two agencies underlined. WHO recommended special precautions against mosquito bites in humans working or travelling in RVF-infected areas starting in late 1997. "These special precautions can now be relaxed to normal malaria-specific precautionary levels in view of the very much diminished risk of RVF," the joint WHO/FAO statement said.

Finally, WHO and FAO underlined that although there have been no reports of RVF for over a year from the epidemic areas in Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, both organisations will continue to monitor climatic conditions and animal and human health, with a focus on RVF. " Subsequent reports by the two organisations will be issued as and when conditions change," the joint statement indicated.

In a related development, Saudi Arabia has lifted the ban on livestock exports from Eritrea. There is no indication as to whether the lifting of the ban will be extended to the rest of the Horn. However, press reports said some 1,200 sheep were exported from Somalia to Qatar yesterday.

7. Cholera update Since December 1998, cholera has been reported from the following regions: Benadir (Mogadishu), Bay, Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba and Gedo. As at 19 March, WHO reports that there are 5,569 cholera cases, with 209 deaths and a case fatality ration of 3.7 per cent. Cholera has been reported to spread from the main urban centers to villages where access to health services is difficult. In the urban centers the situation is under control; so far there has been no lack of cholera supplies. However, the situation will change if the epidemic continues in the coming months as the rainy season commences.

Points of Information from the UNCT meeting of 9 March 1999: Inter-Agency Affairs

Mr. Giorgio Cancelliere, Chairperson of the International NGO Consortium, presented "International NGOs Working in Somalia Handbook 1998" which details activities for 57 NGOs working in Somalia. The booklet is available from The SACB Secretariat (UNDOS).

1999 Consolidated Appeal: First Quarterly Report: The draft document was distributed for rapid review (By Tuesday 23rd), particularly to ensure that their current top priorities for additional funding are correctly included. (Details of projects can also be given to UNCU for possible distribution in Geneva.) It will then be finalised and reproduced for distribution at the meeting with donors on 26th March in Geneva. Several UNCT members will go to Geneva to meet donors at the meeting, being organised by OCHA. A press conference will be convened on the same date.

UNCT Retreat: Date set for 21 - 23 April. Details to be forwarded to individual agencies by Friday 26 March. Main Agenda items are the formulation of a 1999 UNCT Work plan and discussions on UN reform and other key issues. Participants are invited to contribute suggestions for the agenda.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) mission: UNCT members were requested to consider for future discussion, the possibility of arranging an IASC mission this year. The last mission was held in March 1996 and was considered quite useful.

Dr. Basil King of AMREF will lead the special presentation about IDPs at next Thursday's SACB Consultative Committee Meeting. As the rains begin, additional shelter materials are critically needed. There are adequate Tarpaulins for immediate distribution, but UNICEF Nairobi's warehouse is nearly empty. Funding is urgently required.

Water: Work on rehabilitation of boreholes is proceeding smoothly in the south.

Food aid: Stocks are adequate and deliveries are proceeding smoothly.

Reintegration: An agreement has been reached whereby UNHCR will continue with the repatriation of 60,000 persons holding refugee cards to the Northwest in 1999. The UNCT agreed that a dialogue is needed between all concerned agencies to discuss reintegration issues, including the seminar planned for Hargeisa in June.

The Resident Coordinator's Appraisal form was distributed at the meeting. Agencies are requested to complete the form and forward directly to Headquarters (UNDP Administrator and UNDGO)

The Chair also bade farewell to Ms. Kristi Ragan, UNDP Senior Deputy Resident Representative, and expressed regret at her departure. He paid tribute to her consistent attention to including the Somali voice in deliberations at UN meetings in Nairobi and wished her well in her next assignment.

Prepared by the United Nations Coordination Unit (UNCU), in collaboration with the Chief Security Advisor.

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) Somalia Monitor is issued out of various reports received from the field. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the United Nations. Queries and submissions should be forwarded to the UNCU, Facsimile No: (254-2) 448439 and Telephone No: (254-2) 448434, E-mail: The UNCT Somalia Monitor, 6-19 March 1999

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 10:29:56 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Somalia: UNCT Somalia Monitor 6-19 March [19990325]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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