UN worried about lack of aid funds for Somalia

Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:00am GMT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian activities in Somalia are severely underfunded, hurting Somalis who are outside areas controlled by Islamist rebels, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Humanitarian coordinator Mark Bowden told reporters health, water and sanitation assistance for Somalia's massive population of internally displaced people, who fled conflict zones across the lawless Horn of Africa nation, was now "seriously underfunded."

"The lower funding that Somalia receives affects not only the al Shabaab-controlled areas," Bowden said. "It also has affected non-food programs across the country."

Somalia has been deprived of an effective central government and mired in violence since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

More than 40 percent of Somalis -- 3.4 million people -- need humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million uprooted by a three-year insurgency waged by Islamist al Shabaab rebels who are targeting the government and African Union peacekeepers.

So far, this year's U.N. humanitarian aid appeal for some $596 million has generated $335 million, just over half, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Only 25 percent of the nearly $50 million requested for water, sanitation and hygiene aid has been supplied, it said.

The United States, Canada, Britain and Australia have reduced or frozen aid to Somalia, according to U.N. figures. The United States has only provided $15.2 million this year compared with $86 million last year and $211 million in 2008.   Continued...

<p>The United Nations Security Council, at a summit chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama, during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>
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