UN decries attack on aid workers in Somalia

The UN humanitarian agency has expressed concern over increased attacks on aid workers in Somalia, which it said resulted to death of 17 aid workers in the Horn of the African nation in 2015.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said humanitarian access remained a challenge in 2015, in part due to increasing insecurity, limited infrastructure and funding constraints.

“In 2015, over 140 violent incidents directly impacted humanitarian organizations and accounted for the death of 17 humanitarian workers, injury of 18, and abduction of 11 and arrests of 38,” OCHA said in its January report released on Wednesday.

According to the UN, non-state armed actors continued to impose bans on commercial activities in some areas in Bakool, Bay, Gedo and Hiraan regions, thereby disrupting the delivery of humanitarian supplies and basic commercial commodities in 2015.

The UN humanitarian agency said road access remained severely constrained in 28 districts in southern and central Somalia and in Buuhoodle district in the north.

While there was progress in negotiating access to areas such as Xudur in Bakool, humanitarian organizations were only able to access Baidoa in Bay, Bulo Burte in Hiraan, Garbahaarey in Gedo and Wajid in Bakool by air.

The UN humanitarian agency said the high levels of insecurity and, at times, bureaucratic impediments in some areas limited humanitarian access and disrupted humanitarian operations.

“Administrative impediments are also on the rise and caused disruptions in aid programming mainly in Puntland and southern and central Somalia,” it said.

Throughout 2015, the UN agency said, humanitarian community registered over 80 incidents, more than 80 percent of which were interference related to administrative and bureaucratic impediments, while 20 percent were direct interferences with humanitarian activities.

The report came a week after the UN agencies launched a prioritized Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2016, seeking 885 million U.S. dollars to reach 3.5 million people in urgent life-saving assistance by the end of the year.

The UN says 4.9 million Somalis require food assistance, noting that the humanitarian community would strive to reduce the figure by 1.7 million. Enditem.

Xinhua/Nnenna.O