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Somalia: Overseas Aid

Volume 468: debated on Monday 3 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his assessment is of the security of humanitarian assistance to Somalia by the World Food Programme with reference to the increase of piracy incidents in the area. (165990)

Security is one of the major challenges in delivering humanitarian assistance to Somalia. Relief agencies are unable to work effectively to assist the most needy people, especially in Mogadishu and the surrounding area, and the threat of piracy makes the delivery of humanitarian assistance more difficult. Transporters demand higher rates because of the risks, and delays are caused when willing transporters cannot be found or cargoes are seized. Three ships have been attacked in 2007. All were returning empty from Somalia to Kenya, and so there was no loss of humanitarian cargo.

The overland route via Kenya does not, however, provide a suitable alternative since it is less efficient and more expensive, with the exception of a few delivery locations adjacent to the Kenya border. There are many incidents of militia groups setting up checkpoints along roads inside Somalia and demanding payments for passage. This happens to such an extent that the World Food Programme (WFP) still prefers to send the bulk of its humanitarian cargo by ship. At present, approximately 80 per cent. of deliveries of WFP food aid to Somalia are by sea.