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Somalia: Politics and Government

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Somalia; what steps have been taken by the (a) UK and (b) EU to improve the situation; and if he will make a statement. (141567)

While the UK has not made any direct assessment, we are kept informed by the regular assessments made by relief agencies on the ground. Fighting in and around Mogadishu in the first three months of 2007 resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries, and has led to the largest displacement of civilians in the world this year, with an estimated 390,000 people newly displaced since the beginning of February. Most of these are additional to the existing 400,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Somalia. Without access to food, clean water and shelter these people need humanitarian assistance, as do many of those that were not displaced but lost access to services and livelihoods that were disrupted in the fighting. Prior to the fighting, the UN had estimated that 1 million people required humanitarian assistance, and had launched an appeal for $237 million to address these needs. In April this was revised upwards to $262 million in response to the newly emerging needs.

The UK is committed to addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia. In 2006 DFID allocated £16 million and so far in 2007 we have committed £3.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Medical Corps (IMC) and to Solidarities, who are establishing a rapid response mechanism to improve living conditions for IDPs in Southern Somalia. Together these programmes will contribute to delivering water and sanitation, nutrition, medical and other relief supplies to those people most in need. DFID is also considering further contributions to ICRC, United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The EC Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has committed €18 million for humanitarian operations in Somalia this year, including €4 million approved on 1 June in response to the additional needs that have emerged as a result of the fighting in Mogadishu at the beginning of 2007.

The UK hosted the Somalia International Contact Group meeting in London on 6 June. This focused on how the international community could help restart the peace process. Real progress towards an end to the humanitarian crisis depends critically on progress being made towards a just and peaceful political solution in Somalia.