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Somalia: over 160,000 receiving ICRC food aid

01-08-2011 News Release

Geneva / Nairobi (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is currently distributing food to 162,000 people in areas affected by drought and armed violence in southern and central Somalia. This is the first large-scale food distribution in that part of the country since the beginning of the year.

The operation is about to be completed in Gedo (24,000 beneficiaries), Lower Juba (21,000), Middle Juba (30,000 beneficiaries), Bay (15,000), Bakool (12,000), Lower Shabelle (21,000), Middle Shabelle (12,000), and in the Mogadishu region (27,000). In all, the ICRC is distributing 3,000 tonnes of food, with families receiving enough rice, beans and cooking oil to last them one month.

"This operation demonstrates the ICRC's ability to deliver emergency aid directly to the people affected in southern Somalia," said Andrea Heath, the organization's economic security coordinator for Somalia. "But this distribution assists only a small percentage of those in need. More aid will be required to help the population bridge the gap until the next harvest in December."

The severe drought in the Horn of Africa has resulted in acute shortages of water and food. There has been a sharp drop in grain production, grazing cover has withered and many cattle have died in the parts of southern and central Somalia hardest hit. The drought has aggravated the already appalling situation caused by 20 years of internal armed conflict, and countless families are in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Food distributions constitute an emergency response to the most urgent needs. They are complemented by ICRC sustainable aid aimed at enabling the population to carry on their livelihoods with no outside help. Examples are seed distributions, the upgrading of wells and boreholes, irrigation schemes and other cash-for-work infrastructure projects to reduce farmers' vulnerability to extreme weather conditions.

In recent weeks, the ICRC has worked closely with the Somali Red Crescent Society to expand its therapeutic feeding programme for children suffering from severe malnutrition in isolated rural areas. The ICRC is one of the very few humanitarian organizations active in all provinces of southern and central Somalia.

For further information, please contact:
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Nairobi, tel. +254 722 512 728
Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 22 71  or  +41 79 217 32 17