As tsunami relief operations continue in Somalia, there’s word that a formal assessment mission of the country will begin in about two weeks. That announcement from the UN refugee agency.
Simone Wolken is the UNHCR representative for Somalia. From Nairobi, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua the planned assessment.
Ms. Wolken says, “The assessment mission as such will be a formal inter-agency and multi-sectoral assessment – is planned to start at the end of this month. The reason for that is that the agencies and the donors together felt that it is not really just a question of providing immediate relief, which has started and is underway, but that the post-tsunami reconstruction is the biggest issue right now. The focus here is not only to reconstruct what there was before because the situation in these areas before was below any standard that is acceptable for the habitat of human beings. So, the assessment will look at reducing vulnerability rather than reconstructing what used to be vulnerable in these areas.”
Earlier reports had said the assessment mission would begin sooner. But the UNHCR representative says the start date does not mean a delay. She says, “It is not a question of waiting, it is a question of getting all the technical expertise on board to work out what specifications have to be met in order to have a fully fledged technical analysis of all the damage done. “
For example, the far northeastern fishing village of Hafun was destroyed by the tsunami. Experts may determine it must be rebuilt in a new, safer location.
In the meantime, a ship carrying more relief supplies is expected to arrive in the affected area on January 20th. Also, UNICEF continues its operations to provide clean water and sanitation.
The interim Somali government, currently based in Nairobi, has sent a senior delegation to the affected area. Prior to that, UN agencies have been working in cooperation with local authorities in Puntland.