UNHCR launches $48 million appeal for victims of renewed Somali conflict
GENEVA, 24 July (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has launched an appeal for US$48 million to provide badly needed assistance for victims of the renewed conflict inside Somalia.
UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists the estimated number of Somalis who will receive assistance from UNHCR under the appeal - newly arrived Somali refugees in neighbouring countries and people displaced inside Somalia - will rise to 478,000 by end 2008 from 312,000 currently. The appeal covers costs for the period from July 2007 to December 2008.
The rise in numbers who will be assisted over the next 18 months mainly reflects UNHCR's expectation that it will have better access to deliver assistance to more internally displaced persons inside Somalia, especially in the south and central areas of the country. The appeal is aimed at improving their protection and living conditions.
"The total internally displaced population is expected to rise by 12,000 during the period to 450,000 - but UNHCR's assistance will reach 400,000 of them instead of the 250,000 now assisted," Pagonis said.
The additional protection and assistance to both internally displaced Somalis and newly arrived Somali refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti will cost $47.8 million until the end of 2008. Of that, $22.6 million is needed for internally displaced people in Somalia, $12.6 million for new refugees in Ethiopia, $7.5 million for new refugees in Kenya, $4 million for new refugees in Yemen and $776,000 for new refugees in Djibouti.
The programme will provide protection and assistance to Somali refugees who have arrived since January 1, 2007 in the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti, fleeing the conflict between the Islamist Court Union and the Transitional Federal Government. Their numbers are expected to increase from 62,000 now to 78,000 by the end of 2008.
The increase in the number of internally displaced Somalis and the fresh flow of refugees into neighbouring countries expected by the end of 2008 means the total number of people displaced could rise to around 528,000 from 500,000 now.
This is in addition to the 450,000 Somali refugees who fled previous turmoil in Somalia, which has lasted two decades, and are assisted under UNHCR's annual programme. Of those previous refugees, some 315,000 lived in the neighbouring countries at the end of last year, with the rest scattered in other countries.
As part of the joint UN response for internally displaced people, UNHCR has responsibility for protection, non-food items and emergency shelter. The assistance will include shelter material and other non-food items for newly displaced people. A report last week from UNHCR partners in the capital, Mogadishu, said 10,000 people had left the city in a renewal of the outflow seen earlier in the year.
"Living conditions in displaced settlements are now among the worst in Africa," said Pagonis. "The programme will include protection monitoring and tracking of population movements as part of an early warning system to improve future humanitarian responses."