NAIROBI, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The UN on Monday called on the international community to step up its support to Somalia as the war-torn nation approaches the anniversary of two decades without a functioning national government amid struggles to consolidate peace, stability and progress for it's people.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden said despite decades of conflict, many of Somalia's development indicators have improved since 1991 as the UN and local partners have increased support for the provision of essential social services to vulnerable communities. "Somalia is one of the world's most intractable crises. For twenty years conflict over power, resources and land has destroyed lives, created hundreds of thousands of orphans and devastated communities," Bowden said.
Large swathes of Somalia remain in the grip of conflict resulting in a dire humanitarian situation for over two million people. Last month the UN warned that a predicated drought is likely to push many more people into crisis. "Progress is possible even in these difficult circumstances. Across the country, increasing numbers of children are enrolling in schools, health clinics are opening, and the economy led by the agricultural, banking and telecom sectors is growing rapidly."
UN supported immunization campaigns have kept Somalia polio- free since 2007 and the incidence of Malaria has been reduced by 57 percent between 2005 and 2009.
In the last three years the UN with local partners has also scaled-up nutrition services by over 300 percent for the treatment of acute malnutrition among the most affected infants. "While indicators of Somali welfare remain low, they have shown a marked improvement since 1991 despite continuing conflict. Life expectancy has grown, access to health facilities has almost doubled, infant mortality has dropped and extreme poverty has plummeted," Bowden said.
He said despite significant signs of progress much more needs to be done as the Somali people need UN support more than ever. "The international community must step up its support to the people of Somalia if we are to protect the gains we have made and prevent many more people from slipping into crisis and Somalia from becoming one of the world's few chronic catastrophes," he said.
This week the United Nations will also launch a five year development plan for Somalia called "the United Nations Assistance Strategy for Somalia (UNSAS)."
The UNSAS will set out the humanitarian, recovery and development objectives of the UN in Somalia for the next five years.
The UNSAS aims to increase availability of essential social services, provide livelihood opportunities and build Government institutions that are able to provide security and justice for all Somali people. "As we reflect on the tragic consequences of two decades of conflict, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a lasting peace which matches the resilience of millions of Somali people who continue to work towards a better future."