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Briefing Room

Aid agencies say 5 million Somalis face acute food shortages




MOGADISHU, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Some 38 aid agencies have said that at least five million Somalis are facing acute food security crisis due to poor rains in the Horn of Africa nation.

In a joint statement early this week, the agencies include Oxfam, Relief International and World Vision said vegetation conditions have worsened and drought conditions intensified and continued to affect pasture, water, livestock and crops.

“All actors involved need to immediately react to the situation by responding to calls for aid from the humanitarian actors operating in Somalia to ensure that the communities in the affected regions are given lifesaving humanitarian assistance,” it said in a joint statement received in Mogadishu.

The Horn of Africa nation is currently undergoing a drought that has put a severe strain on a large number of livelihoods.

Poor April-June rains coupled with poor October-December rainfall prospects have led to worsening of food insecurity situation and efforts to reduce levels of vulnerabilities continue to be undermined by irregular weather patterns.

According to the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), more than 1.1 million people cannot meet their daily food requirements, while another 3.9 million Somalis require livelihood support to reduce the risk of sliding into crisis.

According to the agencies, severe drought in semi-autonomous region of Puntland is directly affecting approximately 150,000 people and has displaced an additional 12,000 people, according to an inter-agency assessment conducted in September.

“Food prices have gone up and some have doubled which in retrospect places the vulnerable populations are in dire need. Pastoral households interviewed reported that they trek an average distance of 60 km to access water points for both human and livestock consumption,” the agencies said.

In Somaliland, The FSNAU and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) reported in September that 31 percent of the population, or more than one million people, will be in need of humanitarian assistance in Somaliland until the end of 2016. Acute malnutrition has worsened and 248,000 people face acute food security crisis.

An estimated 89 percent of the pastoralists have lost at least one animal, while 77 percent of animal deaths are attributed to the drought.

According to the agencies, while access in Lower and Middle Juba Regions restricts information, satellite-monitored rainfall trends show the regions to be the most worrying in all of Somalia.

Source: XINHUA

Briefing Room

Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes



AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

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Briefing Room

US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists



VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

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Briefing Room

U.S. military denies Al-Shabaab killed its soldier in Somalia



MOGADISHU, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The United States military confirmed Tuesday no American soldier was killed or injured in southern Somalia as claimed by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the continent, dismissed the report as incorrect that the insurgents killed the American soldier on the outskirts of Kismayo during a gun fight early Tuesday.

“We are aware of the reports, but they are incorrect. No U.S military were killed or injured in Somalia, as alleged in the reports,” Africom spokesperson Samantha Reho told Xinhua.

The militants through their radio station, Andalus had reported that the American soldier was killed in a gun battle that took place outside Kismayo town on Tuesday morning.

The allegations came amid intensified security operation by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) backed by Somalia National Army (SNA) on Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Lower Shabelle region, destroying several militant bases, checkpoints and explosives including an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the drawdown which started with 500 troops last December.

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