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Bad Roads, Logistics Hamper Tsunami Aid in Somalia

The World Food Program says some food, but not enough, is reaching Somalia's tsunami victims. Bad roads and other logistical problems are hampering the relief effort.

World Food Program spokeswoman Laura Mello Tuesday described to VOA how her agency is delivering aid to Hafun, an island in the north of Somalia hit particularly hard by the Asian tsunami.

"To reach Hafun from Nairobi, we have to fly to Bossaso, which is a port city on the coast,” she said. “Then we have to go by road and the journey by road takes probably a whole day. The trucks can go up to Foar, which is a location nearby. The last 60 to 70 kilometers have to be done on four-wheel drive trucks, and we only have two four-wheel drive trucks. They take seven to eight hours one way to reach from Foar to Hafun."

Ms. Melo says many of the roads to Hafun and other affected parts of Somalia, which were in bad condition to begin with, have been damaged by the tsunami.

She says her agency so far has dispatched 277 metric tonnes of food to help 17,000 people on the Puntland coast. But, because of logistical difficulties, only 98 metric tonnes have actually been handed over to some 5,200 people.

Ms. Melo says her agency is looking for ways to cope with the logistical problems.

"We're going to send an assessment mission to check on airstrips nearer the areas affected to see whether we could take staff and personnel a little bit nearer,” she added. “But in terms of transport of goods it still remains a problem."

The World Food Program estimates that it will need to provide assistance for up to 30,000 people for the next six months, and is appealing for two-point-eight million dollars to do so.

Hafun and coastal areas of Puntland suffered the greatest damage in Africa from the recent Asian tsunami.

Reports claim the death toll in Somalia now stands as high as 200, with more than 150 injured and thousands displaced.