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UN seeks funds to feed 1.2 mln hungry Somalis
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19:32, August 28, 2007

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The UN World Food Program (WFP) Tuesday is seeking 22.4 million U.S. dollars to feed 1.2 million people in Somalia this year to avoid a looming break in food supplies.

WFP said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the 1.2 million to be fed by the agency includes people who fled their homes in Mogadishu since April, recent returnees to the city and large section of the population in need of relief food assistance in the troubled south.

"It takes up to four months for food assistance to reach people in Somalia. So cash contributions are especially useful because we can then buy food regionally and help bridge the gaps," WFP Somalia Country Director Peter Goossens said in a statement.

Goossens warned that corn-soya blend would start running out in October and cereals in November.

The UN agency said the rise to 1.2 million people, an increase of 200,000 over previous estimates, is the result of a dramatic deterioration in the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions of southern Somalia.

Long viewed as the country's "breadbasket", the area has recently suffered a variety of shocks -- below normal rainfall during the long raining season which ended in June, rising inflation, an influx of displaced people, insecurity, trade disruptions and worsening health conditions.

"The Shabelle regions usually export food to other regions, but this year they cannot feed themselves so the most vulnerable require our help. Also, families driven from Mogadishu by fighting need food for the coming months," Goossens said.

"Donors were extremely generous toward the people of Somalia in this tough year, and I appeal for that spirit to continue to help end the suffering of the growing number of weakest Somalis, mainly women and children. We cannot desert them in their time of need."

The world's largest humanitarian lifeline said the funds would buy 17,000 metric tons of food, and to refund internal loans of 14, 000 metric tons, noting that without new contributions, food will start running out in October.

A recent nutrition survey confirmed acute malnutrition rates among children under five to be above the emergency threshold of 15 percent, with alarmingly high rates of severe acute malnutrition of more than 4 percent.

It said food, clean water, health services, shelter and sanitation were immediately needed.

WFP revised its requirements from its previous target of feeding 1 million people in the light of an assessment report in August by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Security Analysis Unit Somalia (FSAU).

It found that a sudden humanitarian emergency had hit more than 600,000 people in Lower and Middle Shabelle and the capital Mogadishu.

FSAU found that the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia had increased since March from 1 million to 1.5 million because of the worsening situation in the Shabelle regions and despite some improvement in drought and flood- affected regions.

Source: Xinhua

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