An Interview with Yves Van Loo from ICRC

Yves has been in East Africa since May 2010 and knows the context of Somalia very well. He gave an interview today to  the Austrian Broadcasting Company and informed them, that the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) has a presence in Somalia since 1994. Before there was a permanent presence of delegates in Somalia. IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) is working in Somaliland and Bundtland and PNSs (participating National Societies) are supporting, especially the German Red Cross.

Sako, Middle Juba. A distribution at an IDP camp. Picture: ICRC

Complex Situation in Somalia

Since the beginning of July in 2011 there are too few organizations in Somalia to help the people. The ICRC has no problem to access the country as it has been present within the last 20 years. It has a continuous dialogue with the authority to maintain impartiality and neutrality and is focusing on its own operations and assessments. Authorities are informed and therefore the ICRC can move freely within the zone.

The most affected areas are agriculture (ICRC is helping farmers to produce more) and water (engineers are digging deep wells as it needs approximately 200m to find water).

Since the crisis has started the operational capacity has been increased (18 nutritional centers, now looking to have 10 more). Food distributions are also upscaled. There are big efforts to reach more people.

For the future, ICRC is focusing on sustainable projects for farmers (to develop their agriculture) as normally (in optimal circumstances) 50 to 60% of the needs are addressed and now, during the crisis, it is only 5 to 10%. The crisis will go on until the end of the year, and rain is only expected in October. Hopefully by December the harvest can start again and by January people should be able to feed themselves.

Currently, ICRC has 15 delegates that go in and out of Somalia, additionally to 40 national staff in Somalia right now. The Somali Red Crescent  maintains good relationships with the authorities and has 4.500 volunteers within the country.

Martha Wirtenberger from Kenya


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