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‘Somalia single largest humanitarian crisis’

Somalia presents the single largest humanitarian challenge in the world, where food crisis, droughts and violence continue to devastate the country, a leading aid group says.

Over 3.6 million people, or half of Somalia’s population, are currently in desperate need of aid, International aid organization, Oxfam GB, reported on Monday.

“In terms of numbers of people, access to any form of social welfare or livelihood choices, and the apparent intractability of it (the conflict in Somalia), it is the most pressing concern in humanitarian terms that we have globally,” Oxfam GB’s humanitarian director Jane Cocking told Reuters.

Adding to the crisis are over 1.3 million internally displaced people and another half a million refugees who reside in impoverished camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

However, even as conflicts rage within the Horn of Africa nation, both private and government donors are reluctant to throw money in a state as disorganized as Somalia, where a weak UN-backed interim government struggles to retain a bloody insurgency, Oxfam added.

The London-based organization stressed that in negotiating the fifth year of drought in East Africa, one in six Somali children face acute malnourishment.

“That is, in the UN’s terms, a crisis … But because it’s been a similarly awful picture for such a long time, the crisis warning bell no longer produces the fire brigade,” Paul Smith-Lomas , Oxfam GB’s east Africa director said.

Oxfam also noted that limited access to civilians caught in the conflict zones in Somalia has forced the organization to rely more on local partners.

In Somalia, scores of aid workers and journalists have been kidnapped, killed or otherwise targeted since the central government collapsed in 1991.

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