UN Refugee Agency Seeks $530 Million for Somali Aid

The United Nations will appeal for $530 million to fund 229 humanitarian projects in Somalia, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The money will be used next year “to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement today in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will conduct the appeal.

Two good rainy seasons this year in Somalia have helped to improve crop yields, reducing the number of people “in crisis” by a quarter, to 2 million, the UN said yesterday.

Workers providing humanitarian relief in Somalia face regular intrusions from armed groups, while eight aid organizations are banned from the southern and central regions, OCHA said. Local organizations in partnership with the UN have taken over the delivery of services in the affected areas, the agency said.

Rebel fighters from groups including al-Shabaab, which has pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, have been battling the U.S.-backed Somali government for the past three years.

Most of southern and central Somalia is controlled by rebels, while President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government controls only portions of the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and the chaos has made it one of the world’s poorest countries.