In Somalia Crisis Response, A Need for Aid Coordination

Members of the African Union Mission in Somalia patrol Mogadishu following the withdrawal of the al-Shabaab group from the city. Photo by: Stuart Price / UN

The humanitarian aid operation within Somalia needs to be coordinated as more non-governmental organizations flock to the famine-hit country, according to an official of the local Red Crescent society.

“We have so many NGOs, including a lot of Arab ones, coming into Somalia to help but no one seems to know where they should focus, where the needs are — they are all in Mogadishu trying to link with local NGOs — this is an emergency, we need the help but someone must coordinate,” Abdulkadir Ibrahim said, according to IRIN news.

Ibrahim also offered advice to other NGOs considering joining the international response to the crisis in Somalia. He said the key to operating in the country, especially in rebel-controlled areas, is to be “absolutely transparent in your dealings with al-Shabab and other organizations and not politicize your work in any way.”

He stressed that the Somali Red Crescent Society does not pay taxes or any fees to al-Shabab, IRIN says.

The Somalia Red Crescent society is among the select organizations operating in numerous areas of Somalia, including regions controlled by the al-Shabab militant group. Several international organizations, such as the World Food Program, don’t have a presence in al-Shabab-controlled areas in the country.

Aid airlifts

Meanwhile, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has airlifted 31 tons of shelter materials to Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu. This is the first UNHCR airlifted aid into the city, having distributed previous aid packages either by land or sea transport.

The Somali Red Crescent has said it prefers airlifting food aid and other relief supplies to Somalia, because of fewer negotiations and transactions.

“We don’t like the overland route from the Kenyan border as we have to travel from Transitional Federal Government-run areas along the border into al-Shabab areas. Crossing the lines from a TFG area into an al-Shabab area is very difficult [involving a lot of negotiations at both ends],” IRIN News quotes Ibrahim.

New pledges

U.S. President Barack Obama has approved a $105 million for the international crisis response in East Africa, CNN reports. The money will be used to support efforts to provide food, water, health, shelter and sanitation aid, according to White Hosue Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Read more news on the East African crisis.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.