News / Africa

Aid Work in Somalia Continues Despite Violence

Refugees from southern Somalia fill receptacles with rain water, at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, September 5, 2011.
Refugees from southern Somalia fill receptacles with rain water, at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, September 5, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow

The United Nations has cautioned that insecurity in Somalia continues to pose a challenge to aid workers, after a suicide bomber killed at least 72 people in the capital, Mogadishu. U.N. officials say, however, the attack has not stopped efforts to scale up assistance to those in need.

The suicide bombing in Mogadishu, which targeted a compound containing government offices, but killed mostly students, came after a period of relative calm in the Somali capital.

Government officials had said the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab had been driven out of Mogadishu, and aid agencies were taking advantage of the space to ramp up relief efforts for millions of Somalis affected by drought and famine.

But al-Shabab showed it still has a presence in the Somali capital with Tuesday's bombing, which injured well over 100 people.

Aid workers perservere

The attack may have come as a surprise, said Kiki Gbeho, the head of office for the U.N. agency coordinating relief operations in Somalia. Gbeho said aid workers, though, were soon back to business as usual.

“I was actually in Mogadishu the day of the blast, we all retreated to safe havens, we didn't move for 24 hours, but now operations are continuing as normal,” said Gbeho.

A recent report from Gbeho's office, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Somalia, noted the recent security challenges and said aid workers feel they could achieve more if the security situation would improve.

The report also says tensions have been rising between humanitarian agencies and al-Shabab officials in Somalia's Bay region, which is suffering from famine.

Increasing access

Despite al-Shabab's grip on some of the hardest-hit areas of Somalia, Gbeho said access has never been the problem.

“Contrary to what some people believe, we have always had a certain degree of access throughout south Somalia, the problem is the degree: how much you have and the scale to which you can deliver," said Gbeho. "Our challenge at the moment is that we are not able to deliver at the scale required and as fast as we should.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Somalia announced this week that it is scaling up relief activities in the country, despite the security concerns.

ICRC spokesman Yves Van Loo said risk has always been a part of operating in Somalia.

“We know that Somalia is still a war-affected country, so like everywhere in the world, of course we assess the security and we call to all warring parties to get a dialogue, so that's how we are performing our operations in Somalia. We explain about neutrality and independence, and we request a green light for all operations. We do not conduct any operation if the security cannot be guaranteed,” said Van Loo.

The ICRC recently announced a new effort to distribute food aid to 1.1 million people in the worst-affected areas in southern and central Somalia. The U.N. says 4 million people are affected by the food crisis in Somalia, 3 million of them in the south.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

Why Europe and the US may be "whistling past the graveyard?" More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid