Hostility towards relief organizations has caused the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to postpone the distribution of life-saving supplies to prevent and treat acute malnutrition in over 85 000 children in central and south Somalia, the agency announced.
Also disrupted was the delivery of insecticide-treated bed nets for more than 100,000 women and children, according to a news release from the agency.
“We need concrete assurances from local authorities for the safe delivery and storage of supplies to ensure that we can carry out programmes for the survival of Somali women and children,” said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF`s representative in the country.
“We hope these assurances will be forthcoming very soon so that we can continue our operations at a level that matches the needs of children and women and prevent the deaths that will otherwise certainly occur,” she added.
Yesterday, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General`s Special Representative for Somalia, welcomed the release of four aid workers and two pilots who were abducted nine months ago and called for the freeing of remaining hostages.
“It is with great satisfaction that I received the news concerning the release of the six hostages who had been held for so long, and taken into captivity while working in Somalia,” he said.
The four aid workers, who were serving with the French non-governmental organization (NGO) Action Against Hunger, and two pilots were abducted last November from an airstrip in the central Somali town of Dusamareb.
UNICEF noted that its compound in Jowhar, central Somalia, which serves as the main hub for operations in the area, was taken over in May, with large amounts of urgently-needed humanitarian supplies and communications equipment either destroyed or taken.
Reports indicate that UNICEF emergency aid stored in a partner agency`s warehouse in Jammame was taken earlier this month.
UNICEF provides vaccines and drugs in central Somalia, targeting 1.2 million children under five years of age, as well as 1.4 million women.
The UN has repeatedly called on all parties in Somalia to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers, who are tending to the needs of some 3 million people, or 40 per cent of the population, made vulnerable by the combined effects of conflict, drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency.
Pic: UNICEF logo