9 July 2011 – The United Nations top humanitarian official today stressed the need to scale up relief delivery in an Ethiopian region affected by drought and to improve security there to make it more accessible to aid workers.
“It is essential that the humanitarian community has both the funding and resources needed to meet urgent needs, as well as access to the populations affected by the drought,” said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, after visiting the Somali Region of Ethiopia on the second and final day of her visit to the country.

Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, travelled to the regional capital, Jijiga, to meet with local officials. She welcomed the leadership provided by the regional authorities in preparedness and response planning, but emphasized the need to boost security for aid workers there to improve access.

Humanitarian operations in parts of the Somali Region have in recent years been affected by limited access to some areas because of insecurity.

“We need to work together to address these security challenges,” said Ms. Amos.

She also travelled to Bisle Kebele in the northern area of the Somali Region, where she visited a health and nutrition screening centre run by a mobile team. In Besle, Ms. Amos spoke with women from the community who had brought their children for nutritional screening.

Severe water shortages earlier in the year made more than one million people – nearly a quarter of the region’s population – dependent on water trucked in from others areas until the end of April.

Although rainfall in May brought temporary relief, drought conditions are expected to reemerge in the coming months before the next rainy season begins in October.

Large-scale livestock movements have been reported across the Somali Region into and from neighbouring Somalia and Kenya as pastoralist communities move to places with better pasture and water sources.

Livestock deaths have resulted in smaller herd sizes – by 40 to 60 per cent in some areas – and reduced milk production. Milk is an essential component of women’s and children’s nutrition in most pastoralist communities.



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