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Community Help Needed in Somali Drought Relief


Somalia is one of the countries worst hit by the current drought. Nearly two million people are reported in need of urgent assistance and protection. Many livestock have died due to lack of food and water.

As a result, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, is appealing to local communities, political and business leaders for help. From Nairobi, he tells English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua why local help is needed to ensure protection of humanitarian workers and supplies.

“First of all, they’re very much part of the communities. And you can you can safely assume that many of their relatives are involved and directly affected and these people will help in any case. But the main thrust of that message is to persuade every Somali that we can, of influence or without influence, to provide the framework within which we can help, for example, security,” he says.

Asked how the security situation in Somalia is affecting aid distribution, Gaylard says, “It varies throughout the country. But Somalia has gone through…15 very bad years and in some parts of the country there is still conflict. The security situation is fragile in a lot of other parts where there is no conflict. And of course there is a history not so long ago when the United Nations and the international community did try to help and it’s gone very badly wrong.”

The situation is not at the point where he fears to send out food convoys, but he says he does not want to “underplay the seriousness of the entire security situation,” especially in south-central Somalia. Gaylard says the international community still needs to do more when it comes to emergency assistance for the country.