It is feared up to one and a half million Somalis could die within six months if their plight is ignored.
Heavy fighting between bands of militiamen loyal to the government and Islamic militants is creating a worsening humanitarian crisis. The country is stricken by drought and nearly half the population is suffering from malnutrition. Organisers of the UN’s World Food Programme say it is becoming more and more difficult to ensure the distribution of much needed supplies. WFP Director in Somalia, Peter Gossen’s said: “Let’s say, on a six month period, the possibility of 1.5 milion or more will, in fact, perish. It is very, very real and therefore we really need to continue supporting this population.” WFP shipments have often been victim to the rampant piracy off Somalia’s coast, affecting delivery of assistance to more than a million internal refugees. Since the weekend, the capital Mogadishu has been rocked by mortar and machine-gun fire as rebels attempt to topple President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s fledgling government. More than 16,000 civilians have been killed in fighting since the beginning of 2007.