Red Cross steps up relief operation in Somalia

June 4th, 2008 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, June 4 (Xinhua) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday it has stepped up relief work in Somalia to response to a deepening crisis. The aid agency said hundreds of thousands of Somalis were facing food and water shortages due to the escalating armed conflict and a severe drought in central Somalia.

High inflation and the worldwide rise in commodity prices, especially for key imports such as food and fuel, were aggravating the situation, said the ICRC in a statement released here.

The situation in Somalia has deteriorated since the beginning of the year.

A growing number of cities and towns in the centre and south of the country have seen armed clashes while fighting continues to be intense in capital Mogadishu.

According to the aid agency, several civilians have been wounded or killed while hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Somalia. The majority live in the open or in makeshift camps, minus medical facilities.

The ICRC said the deteriorating security situation and extremely fragile economy were further jeopardising the survival of many rural communities, whose coping mechanisms were already stretched to the limit.

The most severely affected areas are in central Somalia, which has seen poor rainfall and suffered from low crop yields for over two years.

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