The United Nations says the humanitarian disaster in Somalia is deepening. It says fighting, crime, economic distress and drought are causing growing instability as more and more people flee their homes in search of safety and assistance that is becoming more difficult to find. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
The statistics are frightening. They paint a picture of a society where chaos and disruption have become the norm. The United Nations reports 2.6 million people in Somalia need assistance.
It warns this figure will rise by nearly one million by the end of the year if the situation in the country does not improve. That means more than 40 percent of the population will have difficulty surviving without international humanitarian assistance.
A spokeswoman for the U.N.'s Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, Elizabeth Byrs, says more than one million people have been displaced by fighting and 6,500 have been killed since 2007.
Byrs tells VOA, hijackings are increasing, food stocks are looted, attacks, intimidation and even murders of journalists and aid workers are on the rise. She says Somalia has become one of the most dangerous places on earth.
"Altogether at each level because of those hijackings of vehicles, of attacks of vehicles of aid workers - all these conditions and those incidents - sometimes more than incidents because aid workers are targeted and shot or murdered - all this creates a situation which prevents humanitarian aid agencies of doing their job," she noted.
Byrs says U.N. humanitarian flights have been suspended because of the dangers and ships transporting food aid have been seized by pirates off the coast.
She notes the worsening security situation is not the only factor compromising the humanitarian situation. She says record-high food prices, hyperinflation and severe drought in many parts of the country are adding to the hardships.
After putting up with two years of drought, she says people in some areas now are suffering from intensive rains.
"And those intensive rains are full of consequences, uprooting of crops and the death of the weak cattle, weak animals," she added. "It is a problem for livestock. It is a problem for the next harvest. So, we have all those factors which create the worst humanitarian situation possible."
Byrs warns conditions in Somalia will continue to deteriorate unless the warring parties finally agree upon a peace accord that is respected by all sides.