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23 Aug 2010 13:06
The number of people in Somalia needing humanitarian assistance has dropped by a quarter to two million over the past six months, the United Nations said on Monday.
The study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) comes after dozens of relief organisations have had to halt their work due to restrictions imposed by Islamist groups.
“The current situation indicates an improvement, but with 27% of the population still in crisis the needs remain very significant. And if the next rain season is poor, then the numbers in crisis will rise again,” said Grainne Moloney, FSNAU’s chief technical advisor.
Above average rainfall this year has boosted crop production and helped the key livestock sector, allowing some of the people hit by drought and high food prices last year to start recovering.
“We are seeing some positive indicators in the agricultural sector, yet for the pastoralists in central, Hiran regions and parts of the north, they will need many more good seasons of rain to fully recover their herd sizes,” said Grainne.
The UN has previously described Somalia, which has been without an effective central government for two decades, as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In recent months, the al-Qaeda-inspired al-Shabaab insurgent group—which controls most of central and southern Somalia—has banned several UN agencies and foreign aid groups from operating.—AFP
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