SOMALIA / OPEN LETTER -- The worsening crisis in Somalia has prompted the interim UN resident & humanitarian coordinator to write an open letter to the Somali people.
Graham Farmer says he wants to reiterate the humanitarian community’s commitment to providing support to vulnerable people when and where they need it. He says the situation “truly catastrophic,” but adds that Somalia will be neither “neglected nor forgotten.” From Nairobi, Farmer spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he wrote the open letter to the Somali people.
“The UN system and the NGO communities are seeing a worsening situation in Somalia. We’re seeing increasing needs and we are concerned that our delivery to those increasing needs will be hampered by potential security problems. So the letter to the people is to say that we are with them, but we need assistance in delivering. We are for them,” he says.
However, if insecurity is so bad, is the letter a way of saying humanitarian agencies would like to help but can’t get to those in need right now?
“No, it is not a way of saying that. It is a way of saying we want to help. We want to get to you. What we’re saying is we will get to you. We are not in any way saying we will not get to them at this time. What we’re saying is that it is a difficult situation and that it can be helped by activities inside Somalia,” he says.
Some of the humanitarian relief efforts include ongoing food delivery programs through the World Food program, CARE and others; and health services and agriculture assistance, such as irrigation systems, following the very poor Gu rains. “So it’s a wide spread of activities aiming at basic needs, services and livelihoods,” he says.
Farmer says he hopes armed groups opposed to the Transitional Federal Government will read his open letter and allow greater access for relief agencies. He says, “We sincerely hope that the combatants will hear the message and realize this is for the benefit of the Somali people…. There is messaging that is going out to all communities…. We need the access more than ever to help the people.”
His open letter goes on to say the Somali people will neither be “neglected nor forgotten and the guarantee [is] that the next step for the Somali people is not backward, but forward.”