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Somalia crisis deteriorates, aid agencies warn

The United Nations Security Council will be briefed in New York today on the worsening humanitarian situation in Somalia.

Member states will be given details of the growing threat to ordinary civilians caused by conflict and impending drought and the increasing difficulties faced by aid agencies operating in the country who are trying to bring assistance to the victims. Several non-governmental organisations, including Concern Worldwide, will attend the session.

Today’s special "Arria" meeting, hosted by the United Kingdom, follows the joint statement issued last week by more than 40 aid/development and human rights groups aimed at highlighting the plight faced by hundreds of thousands of Somalis.

It was the second time in less than six months that agencies such as Concern Worldwide joined forces to speak out collectively in a bid to draw attention to a humanitarian situation that has the potential to develop into a repeat of the devastating famine of 1992.

Here is the full text of the statement:

On Oct. 30, 2007, 39 NGOs warned of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Somalia and an impending humanitarian catastrophe.  Since then, the crisis engulfing Somalia has deteriorated dramatically while access to people in need continues to decrease;  360,000 people have been newly displaced and an additional half a million people are reliant on humanitarian assistance. 

There are now more than one million internally displaced people in Somalia.  Intense conflict in Mogadishu continues to force an average of 20,000 people from their homes each month.  This, combined with record high food prices, hyperinflation and drought in large parts of the country is leaving communities struggling to survive.  Extreme water and food shortages are expected to worsen across the country if the seasonal rains (April - June) fail as they are predicted to. 

As the crisis worsens, Somali and international aid agencies are unable to respond adequately to the needs.  Attacks on, and killings of, aid workers, the looting of relief supplies, and a lack of respect for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict have left two million Somalis in need of basic humanitarian assistance. 

For too long, the needs of ordinary Somalis have been forgotten.  The undersigned agencies are asking the international community and all parties to the conflict to urgently focus their attention on the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Somalia.  They must ensure access for humanitarian supplies, live up to their responsibility to protect civilians and address the environment of impunity.  The humanitarian crisis will become more and more complex and will continue to deepen in the absence of a political solution to the current crisis.

Agencies signatory to the statement:

1. Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development    (ACTED)
2. Adventist Relief Development Agency     (ADRA)
3. African Relief and Development Program     (ARDP)
4. Caritas Swiss Group       (CARITAS Swiss Group)
5. Cooperative Assistance for Relief Everywhere    (CARE)
6. Concern Worldwide        (CONCERN)
7. Coperazione Internazionale      (COOPI)
8. Diakonie Emergency Aid Bread for the World    (DBG)
9. Diakonia Sweden       (Diakonia Sweden)
10. Development Initiative Access Link     (DIAL)
11. Danish Refugee Council       (DRC)
12. Gedo Health Consortium        (GHC)
13. Global Organisation for Health and Development    (GOHED)
14. Gothenberg Initiative       (GI)
15. Gol Yome Rehabilitation & Development Organization   (GREDO)
16. Humanitarian Action for Relief and Development Organization   (HARDO)
17. Himilo Foundation       (HIMILO)
18. HISAN – WEPA        (HISAN)
19. Horn Relief        (Horn Relief)
20. International Aid Services       (IAS)
21. Institute of Education for Disabled People in Somalia    (IEDSOM)
22. International Medical Corps      (IMC)
23. International Rescue Committee       (IRC)
24. Interpeace/ War Torn Societies      (Interpeace)
25. Medicins du Monde       (MDM)
26. Mercy Corps Somalia       (Mercy Corps Somalia)
27. Merlin         (Merlin)
28. Norwegian Refugee Council      (NRC)
29. Oxfam International       (OXFAM International)
30. Progressio        (Progressio)
31. Relief International       (RI)
32. SAACID Australia       (SAACID Australia)
33. Saferworld        (Saferworld)
34. Save the Children UK       (SC-UK)
35. Terra Nouva Association for international Cooperation to Development  (Terra Nouva)
36. Education Small Scale Enterprise Food Security & Resource Emergency Response (TROCAIRE)
37. VETAID         (VETAID)
38. WETHULNGERHILFE/ German Agro Action    (GAA)
39. World Concern International      (World Concern)
40. World Vision        (World Vision)