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NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator today concluded a five-day mission to Somalia and Kenya to gauge progress in humanitarian efforts to respond to the consequences of the 2011 drought.

During her visit to Mogadishu, on 8 and 9 May, ASG Bragg visited internally displaced persons' (IDP) settlements and met with government officials, key humanitarian actors and stakeholders, including Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, and some members of the diplomatic corps. The ASG urged the TFG and the international community to keep the crisis in Somalia high on its agenda.

"Famine conditions are no longer present in Somalia, largely due to the effective delivery of aid and the good harvest at the beginning of the year, but the humanitarian situation remains critical," said ASG Bragg. "We must build on the fragile gains. The number of people who need food aid decreased by 1.5 million, but 2.5 million people are still in crisis and that is a very large number."

According to Ms. Bragg, a key focus now is on helping people regain their livelihoods, which is crucial to building resilience to future droughts and other shocks. "I urge all stakeholders to recommit to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that their basic needs are met."

"The local and international aid workers collaborating in Somalia have proven they can make a difference," she noted. "We are strengthening coordination with key actors, including Turkey and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is vital to ensure that all of our resources are used efficiently for the benefit of the Somali people."

In Kenya, from 10-12 May, the ASG commended the Government for its commitment to strengthen the resilience of local communities in drought-affected areas.

“I have just returned from meeting families in Isiolo in north-central Kenya who were affected by the 2011 drought crisis,” said ASG Bragg. “I am very impressed by the ongoing national initiatives to build the communities' resilience to recurring drought, but we are not out of the woods yet.”

The 2011 drought emergency left 3.8 million in need of food assistance in Kenya. While this figure has improved, an estimated 2.2 million people continue to require food assistance of which 250,000 people are classified as still being in crisis.

While in Nairobi, Ms. Bragg met with senior Government officials as well as humanitarian and development partners to take stock of the humanitarian challenges in the country. She also discussed OCHA's support to the Government's commitment to strengthening drought resilience and preparedness.

She also visited an IDP camp in Chumvi at the outskirts of Isiolo. While acknowledging the significant strides that have been made to address inter-communal conflicts in Isiolo, she urged the Government and local authorities to ensure the protection of IDPs and work with communities to find durable solutions. In addition to thousands of people affected from the recent inter-communal conflict in Isiolo, there are over 15,000 families displaced by the 2007-2008 post-election violence awaiting resettlement.

On her last day in Kenya, the ASG visited a demonstration site for improving agricultural practices targeting people living in arid lands. "I am impressed by the community's longer term vision, dealing not only with immediate food needs but also planning their children's future by selling part of the produce to send them to school," she said.