NAIROBI, Kenya – Somalia (search) appealed Monday for international aid to victims of the deadly tsunami (search) that slammed its shores, with an official saying at least 50,000 people urgently need food, water, shelter and medical help after losing their homes and livelihoods.
Somali presidential spokesman Yusuf Mohamed Ismail said 24 countries — including the United States, Italy, German and Saudi Arabia — have pledged to send relief to Somalia. But nothing has arrived more than a week after a massive underwater earthquake (search) off Indonesia some 3,000 miles away sent lethal waves as far as the east coast of Africa.
"We are very happy that relief supplies have arrived in Asia, which was hit the hardest by the tragedy, but Somalia — which has been ravaged from a 13-year civil war, drought and political neglect — also needs emergency help to deal with the latest calamity," Yusuf told The Associated Press.
At least 200 people were killed and many others remain missing after the waves hammered the Somali coast Dec. 26, Yusuf said.
Somalia is still struggling to assess the damage. The U.N. food aid agency has sent out four teams to assess humanitarian needs and distribute aid to affected Somalis, spokeswoman Laura Melo said.
But the presence of large numbers of anti-aircraft guns owned by local warlords prevented U.N. officials from flying over parts of the Somali coastline last week to check on damage in those areas.
Some affected areas are so remote they could take five days to reach from the nearest usable airstrip, U.N. officials said.
Some tsunami victims are receiving food aid from U.N. agencies, which diverted relief intended for Somalis suffering from a four-year drought, Yusuf and U.N. officials said.
Most of the victims are from the Indian Ocean coastline of the semiautonomous region of Puntland, including the northeastern Hafun island, which was hardest hit by the tsunami.
The waves were triggered by a huge undersea earthquake centered off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, about 2,800 miles across the Indian Ocean. More than 139,000 were killed in Asia.
Somalis abroad also are raising funds to help the survivors, Yusuf said.