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Somalia: ICRC temporarily suspends distributions of food and seed

12-01-2012 News Release 01/04

Geneva/Nairobi (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has decided to temporarily suspend its distributions intended for 1.1 million people in urgent need after having its food and seed relief commodities blocked in parts of central and southern Somalia.

"The suspension will continue until we receive assurances from the authorities controlling those areas that distributions can take place unimpeded and reach all those in need, as previously agreed," said Patrick Vial, the head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia.

The ICRC is one of the few organizations that have been providing humanitarian aid in those parts of Somalia. The distributions, which started in October of last year, have already benefited more than 1.1 million people despite major logistical constraints. Since mid-December, however, local authorities in central and southern Somalia have blocked the delivery of food intended for 240,000 people in the Middle Shabelle and Galgaduud regions.

"We are actively seeking the cooperation of the local authorities to restore conditions that will allow the resumption of the suspended activities as soon as possible," said Mr Vial.

The food and seed were to be distributed to the people most affected by the combined effects of two decades of armed conflict and the severe drought that has gripped Somalia since October 2010. When the humanitarian situation dramatically worsened in the central and southern parts of the country in the first half of 2011, the ICRC decided to launch an emergency drought response operation. Since then, on the basis of needs assessments carried out by its staff on the ground, the ICRC has distributed food rations to more than a million people and has provided agricultural support for over 100,000 farmers.

The current emergency response includes not only the food and seed distributions but also the treatment of severely malnourished children, more than 170,000 of whom have benefited so far, and an expansion in the availability of health care in remote areas. In addition to carrying out this emergency operation, the ICRC has maintained its long-term activities with the aim of helping people regain self-sufficiency by providing them with improved access to clean water, health care and other essentials of daily life.

For further information, please contact:
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 722 512 728
Marie-Servane Desjonquères, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 60 or +41 79 536 92 58