Following the recent floods and fighting in Somalia, humanitarian agencies are trying to get their operations back up to speed.
Molly McCloskey is an information officer for the Somalia branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA. From Nairobi, she gives VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the humanitarian situation.
“Basically, we’re still facing a lot of challenges in terms of access, especially to Lower Juba (Valley), which is an area where some very serious needs are concentrated and which was very much was cut off during the flooding…and just as we started to be able to access Lower Juba around Christmas when air drops started was when the conflict broke out. So, the airdrop operation had to be interrupted and since then the continuation of military operations, and particularly the use of the Kismayo airport, which would be our access hub into that area, has continued to be inaccessible. Basically, the Ethiopian troops have been using Kismayo airport,” she says.
Today (Wednesday) a UN multi-agency mission has gone into Mogadishu, the third to do so in recent weeks. “We’re trying very hard to reengage as quickly as possible…and to support national reconciliation,” says McCloskey.
Many people have been displaced in Somalia over the past year. “The latest figure we have is between 65,000 to 75,000 people displaced in the recent conflict. Now, as you may recall there was huge displacement as a result of flooding. There was an estimated 454,000 people displaced as a result of flooding in November and December. So some of those 65,000 to 70,000 displaced by conflict would be suffering from secondary displacement,” says McCloskey.
UN officials are meeting with Kenyan authorities to try to reopen the border to Somali refugees. There are about 4,700 Somalis at border hoping to enter Kenya and join well over 100,000 other Somalis at the Dadaab refugee camp complex.