The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, estimates that 3 million people in Somalia will be in need of food assistance by August. Bowden spoke on the line from Nairobi to Harun Maruf of VOA Somali Service.
Bowden estimates that there are 2.85 million people in need of food assistance presently, but this number continues to rise.
During a visit to Dolow, a Somali-Ethiopia border town, Bowden reports that about one hundred households cross the border each day—mainly women and children. Upon arrival, none are in good condition and most families have walked about three weeks to reach the town.
Bowden reports that most families made the long journey in search of better access to relief supplies.
Bowden has welcomed Al-Shabab’s recent announcement to allow humanitarian assistance for Somalis affected by the draught. Bowden said he is looking forward to hearing from al-Shabab of “more specific details of guarantees that humanitarian assistance can be carried out under the humanitarian principles…to make sure that it goes to people in need.”
Bowden also hopes for a guarantee from al-Shabab of humanitarian worker’s safety and that the assistance will not be taxed of misused in any other way.
Bowden stresses the need for additional assistance. He reported that the UN and other international organizations are running out of funds and resources. He says that there is an urgent need to “increase the levels of assistance, very rapidly, if we’re going to be able to step up the programs that are being run in Somalia.”