World Food Programme Seeks Urgent Naval Escorts.

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters)

The United Nations said on Friday food shipments to Somalia were grinding to a halt as few vessels were willing to hazard the country's pirate-infested waters,
and it called on governments to provide naval escorts.

Peter Goossens, Somalia director for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), said the agency had received no offers of naval protection since late June, when a
Dutch frigate brought a WFP vessel safely into Mogadishu.

"I have 80,000 tonnes (of food) sitting in South Africa to urgently go into Somalia and so far I've only been able to find one ship of 8,000 tonnes that is willing to
do this," he told a news conference.

"When you speak to shipping operators or agents, the first question you get is: 'Are there escorts?'"

Fighting between Somalia's interim government and Islamist insurgents has triggered a humanitarian crisis that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa.

At least a million people have been uprooted by the violence since early last year, and their plight has been compounded by record-high food prices, hyper-inflation and drought.

WFP delivers 90 percent of its food aid to Somalia by sea. It says air and overland routes are not practical given the scale of the operation.

Pirates have attacked 24 ships off Somalia's eastern and northern coasts so far this year, compared with 31 attacks in the whole of 2007.

Goossens said naval escorts from France, Denmark and the Netherlands over the past eight months had been successful in protecting WFP ships from attack.

WFP expects the total number of Somalis needing food aid to rise to 3.5 million by December. It now feeds about 1 million a month, a figure it aims to increase to 2.4 million by the year end. Other relief groups would feed the rest.

Goossens said he had only enough stocks in Somalia to last for five or six weeks.

The United Nations warned last week that the humanitarian disaster could soon rival Somalia's famine of the early 1990s, in which hundreds of thousands died.

"The most nightmarish situation is that we might see Ethiopia-like pictures of famine from the 1980s," Goossens said.

He said food had to be sourced from South Africa because traditional suppliers Kenya and Uganda were starting to limit exports due to rising global food prices.

The United Nations says its aid requirements in Somalia has jumped nearly 60 percent in six months to $641 million, due to deteriorating security and rising prices.
Re: World Food Programme (WFP) Seeks Urgent Navy Escorts.

Interesting post but unsurprising considering the levels of piracy in those and a number of other areas of the world. Many of those involved in these acts are probably smacked out of their heads on drugs and are therefore capable of anything - especially considering the prize and with less and less of the worlds warships on hand the odds on getting caught are slight.

The piracy isn't restricted to the sea lanes either as much of the food delivered is nicked by the local authorities for their own gains.

Re: World Food Programme Seeks Urgent Navy Escorts.

Very interesting post, however seeing has the the Somalis are entirely Sunni Muslims, perhaps help for the country should come from other Muslim nations in the area first, before the perhaps other African nations step in to lend a hand.
I agree with you SF, and quoting the first post "WFP delivers 90 percent of its food aid to Somalia by sea. It says air and overland routes are not practical given the scale of the operation". It has little to do with the scale of the operation and more the security of such operation. Only guarding the supplies at sea is only addressing a small part of a much much larger problem, In addition is the cost and logistical challenge of organising a safe land military escort. Remembering that delivery can and is also being hampered by authorities.
only last week APR reported:

"On Tuesday, the Somali authorities in the Lower Shabelle region froze all aid activities before lifting it on Wednesday.

"Somalia is one of the worst environments in the world for moving assistance," said Smerdon WFP, explaining that the volatile situation across Somalia often forces people to relocate, as well as cutting supply lines."
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