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UN Appeals for Tsunami Aid for Somalia

The United Nations has appealed for more than $13 million to help 54,000 Somalis affected by the recent Asian tsunami.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations Development Program in Somalia, Sandra Macharia, told VOA Wednesday the tsunami is the latest hardship Somalis have had to bear over the past year.

"This is just yet another thing on people that have had their livestock lost because of the drought and then the flash floods. So then the tsunami happened. It's just worsening an already bad situation," said Ms. Macharia.

Ms. Macharia noted U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egland toured Somalia last month and called for $164 million to pay for emergency assistance, health care, education, food reserves, support for good governance, human rights promotion, and other services.

That appeal was designed to help the new Somali government re-build the country after almost 14 years of civil war.

According to the United Nations, most of Somalia's almost seven million people live in poverty, with an estimated 400,000 internally displaced.

Ms. Macharia said this week's $13.1 million tsunami request is in addition to last month's appeal. She said 150 people have been killed in the disaster.

But aid is slowly trickling into the affected parts of Somalia. The United States Embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi this week donated $50,000 for relief kits, drinking water, and medical supplies.

The World Food Program so far has dispatched 277 metric tones of food to help 17,000 people along the Puntland coast.

Aid workers report it is difficult to transport food and other supplies to affected areas because of bad roads and other logistical problems.

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