SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 10 August 1999 (fwd) [19990810]

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 10 August 1999 (fwd) [19990810]

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 10 August 1999

UN report warns of potential for "starvation on a large scale"

Conflict, population, drought and disease have brought about "exceptional food emergencies" in 16 African countries, including Somalia, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has stated in its annual report on food supply and crop prospects in sub-Saharan Africa. "In Somalia, the food outlook for 1999 and beyond is extremely grim", second worst of the 16, with 400,000 people at risk of starvation due to the cumulative effects of adverse weather, conflict and uncontrolled pests and diseases, the FAO stated. "Traditional coping strategies for most households have been virtually exhausted, while commercial and economic activities have been severely curtailed by factional fighting and insecurity."

"The international community needs to devise ways of reaching and assisting the increasingly desperate populations, despite the serious obstacles hampering food relief distributions, failing which starvation on a large scale cannot be ruled out", the FAO warned. Continued large-scale food assistance would be needed in Somalia well into the year 2000, and most households would also need seeds and other inputs for the next growing season, it added.

Over one million people face food shortages

The Food Security and Assessment Unit (FSAU) and WFP estimated last week that more than one million people in Somalia were vulnerable to food shortages if this year's 'Gu' harvest failed, including 730,000 in Bay, Bakool and Gedo; 83,000 in Hiran; 193,000 in Lower Shabelle; and 160,000 in Lower Juba. These figures did not include displaced communities, which total some 300,000 people, including those in Mogadishu, according to a UN report received by IRIN. An additional problem had been the steady devaluation of the Somali shilling against the US dollar, which increased the cost of imported foods, it added.

Kenya relocates 690 refugees to Kakuma camp

UNHCR on Sunday and Monday relocated to Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya 690 Somali refugees registered last week in Mombasa when the Kenyan government closed St Ann's, an unofficial Somali refugee camp in the coastal city. A UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN on Tuesday that a convoy of 10 buses, one or two trucks transporting the refugees' personal belongings, UNHCR and police escort vehicles left Mombasa on Sunday and was understood to have arrived on Tuesday. She said there had been talk of up to 2,500 Somali refugees in Mombasa that the government wanted moved to either Kakuma or Dadaab camps, but that the weekend's relocation was a "one-time assistance to the Kenyan government" of those 690 Somalis who had come forward to be relocated, and UNHCR had no plans for additional relocation operations from Mombasa.

Kenyan cabinet minister Shariff Nassir on Sunday warned those refugees who had ridden rather than be relocated that the government would catch up with them. "Refugees should come forward before being sought out by police," the 'East African' newspaper on Monday quoted Nassir as saying.

New political party aims to break clan politics

A new political party, the United Somali Republic Party (USRP), was established in Mogadishu on Friday and pledged itself, at an inauguration attended by 500 delegates, to overcome the current political stalemate and establish a transitional government. The USRP, led by Abdi Nur Darman, a Somali engineering graduate who is now a US citizen, said its membership would be based not on clan affiliation but on "a commitment to the party's charter and political agenda", AFP news agency reported on Monday. It quoted party officials as saying that Darman had recently visited Ethiopia, Djibouti and other countries to discuss an "enhanced" plan for Somalia, and that the party's prime task would be to encourage voluntary disarmament.

Journalists' arrest in Puntland brings international protest

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF) on Friday protested to Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, president of the self-declared republic of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, about the arrest of three journalists. According to information gathered by RSF, three independent journalists, Abulkadir Ali and Mohamed Deeq of the newspaper 'Sahan', and Ahmed Mohamed Ali of the newspaper 'Riyaq' were arrested on 2 August. The journalists were reported to be well known for their criticism of the Puntland authorities. RSF urged Ahmed "to use his influence to ensure that the three journalists are released immediately." Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general, noted that the Charter for Puntland State guaranteed freedom of expression and said: "As far as we know, they merely exercised their right to inform."

'Conflict will worsen as long as Ethiopia-Eritrea war continues' - US Ambassador

The US Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn, on Friday said it was very clear that the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict, which has seen "additional involvement by way of arms shipments into Somalia, which really doesn't need anymore arms", increased the worry about Somalia's future and its impact on the region generally. "If the war (between Ethiopia and Eritrea) is resolved, I believe there is a good chance that these new security elements in Somalia can be fairly addressed. If the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea continues, then I envisage that these elements would worsen", Shinn commented in an interview with the 'Addis Tribune' on Friday.


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Item: irin-english-1394

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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