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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
More than 30 Aid agencies urge debt relief for Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- More than 30 aid agencies working in Somalia on Monday called on multilateral lenders to cancel the Horn of Africa nation’s debt so that Mogadishu can access funds to create conducive environment for investment.

The agencies, including World Vision, Action Aid, Save the Children and Relief International, said in a joint statement issued on the eve of a London conference for Somalia that lending restrictions are hampering Mogadishu’s efforts to scale up investments in education, health and security sectors.

“Cancelling the debt would give Somalia access to long-term development finance and create the conditions for private investment,” the organizations said.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde in January pledged to prioritize Somalia’s debt relief, saying every effort is being made to speed up the process.

According to the IMF, Somalia’s external debt is about 5 billion U.S. dollars, but Mogadishu has not made a service or amortization payment since the onset of the civil war two decades ago, making it impossible to access loans from the IMF.

The agencies said the countries that are in arrears to the IMF and the World Bank are not eligible for debt relief, nor can they receive funding through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

“These arcane rules on arrears are excluding Somalia from one of the largest development financing pots. As many policy influencers gather in London, they have an opportunity to change this picture,” said the agencies.

They said many children’s lives could be saved with well-functioning health, education services and safety nets that are well catered by a stable government and its institutions.

The focus of the High-Level Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Somalia is to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and generate political and financial momentum for the 2018 humanitarian response and recovery.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khaired is in the United States for meetings with IMF and World Bank officials as Mogadishu seeks to have its debt cancelled

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EARLIER REPORT:

Charity calls for increased humanitarian aid to avert famine in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- An International charity organization on Monday called on donors to increase humanitarian aid to help avert famine in Somalia where the lives of some 2.7 million people are at risk.

In a statement issued on the eve of London for Somalia humanitarian conference, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned that half a million people today are on the brink of famine.

“The international community saved thousands of lives in Somalia last year, and helped stop a famine before it could happen. But less humanitarian aid now threatens to throw the country back into a deeper crisis, even towards catastrophe,” NRC Regional Director Nigel Tricks said in a statement.

The focus of the High-Level Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Somalia is to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and generate political and financial momentum for the 2018 humanitarian response and recovery.

The Tuesday event will bring together senior decision makers and partners to agree on how to plan and fund the 2018 humanitarian response, address priority gaps, review lessons from the successful 2017 famine prevention response and how these can be applied to best effect in 2018.

According to the charity, while the country dodged famine last year, 2.7 million people today are living in what the UN describes as crisis or emergency phases of hunger.

“Aid works, as humanitarian aid saved countless lives in Somalia last year, but 2018 promises a new year of crisis. Somalia’s forecast includes continued drought for several regions this year,” Tricks said.

“Without a focused effort by government and the international community to maintain support for Somalis at risk, thousands of people may be pushed back over the edge,” he warned.

According to the statement, the humanitarian community seeks 1.5 billion U.S. dollars for programs to sustain and rebuild the drought and conflict stricken country in 2018 with focus on drought.

A catastrophe was averted last year as donors, governments and agencies heeded crisis warnings, and acted quickly to help hold off another famine. This year the situation is urgent as 5.4 million Somalis will need humanitarian aid.

According to the statement, more than 300,000 children under age five are acutely malnourished, including 48,000 severely malnourished children who face an increased risk of death.

Some 1.1 million people fled their homes due to drought and conflict last year in Somalia, adding to the one million people who were already displaced within the country from previous years.

           

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