Somalia: One in four people at risk of hunger due to drought warns UN

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United Nations humanitarian agencies expect 4.6 million people will need food assistance by May 2022. Meanwhile, food shortages and the cumulative effects of three droughts have already forced 169,000 people to relocate. leaving their homes, a number which could reach 1.4 million within six months, continues the UN.

A total of 3.2 million people in 66 of the country’s 74 districts are suffering the cumulative effects of three consecutive below-average rainy seasons.

“The current drought has devastated livelihoods and pushed families to the brink of disaster,” Somali Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Khadija Diriye said in a statement.

In recent years, natural disasters – not conflict – have been the main cause of displacement in Somalia, one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

The Somali government declared the drought a humanitarian emergency in November.

Somalia – on the front lines of climate change – is the most drought-affected country in the Horn of Africa. In recent years, natural disasters – not conflict – have been the main cause of displacement in Somalia, a country ranked among the most vulnerable to climate change.

A 2022 humanitarian response plan at 1.5 billion dollars

“The risk is so great that without immediate humanitarian assistance, children, women and men will start to starve to death in Somalia,” Ms. Diriye added. Also, the Somali authorities expect next January, “an agricultural production lower by 50 to 70% than the average of the last ten years”.

Under these conditions, the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2022, published on Monday, intends to prioritize life-saving aid for 5.5 million of the most vulnerable people, including 1 million children under the age of 5. . The goal of the UN and its partners is to decrease the prevalence of hunger, acute malnutrition, public health epidemics, abuse or violence by the end of the year.

To meet the immediate needs of drought-affected communities, the UN has released $ 17 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), bringing CERF funding for Somalia to $ 52 million in 2021.

“These $ 17 million will allow humanitarians to scale up critical operations,” Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Chief of Humanitarian Operations, said in a statement.

Photo: FAO / Haji Dirir

Desert locusts are swarming in the Nugal region of Somalia.

At least seven in ten Somalis live below the poverty line

Note that the UN launched on Monday its appeal for funds for Somalia, and is seeking nearly 1.5 billion US dollars to help help 5.5 million people among the most vulnerable in Somalia.

About 7.7 million people, or nearly half of Somalia’s population (15.9 million), will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022, a 30% increase in one year, according to the UN.

At least seven in ten Somalis live below the poverty line, and the drought has destroyed already precarious sources of income – loss of livestock, reduced harvests – all combined with high inflation.

In addition, conflict and insecurity have forced nearly 800,000 people to flee their homes since the start of the year. In total, the country has nearly 3 million internally displaced persons, one of the highest figures in the world.

More broadly, the people of Somalia have endured decades of conflict, recurring climate shocks and epidemics, including the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. A crisis prolonged by the invasion of desert locusts, which has also affected crops and livelihoods.

“The lives of the people of Somalia are at stake and we have no time to waste,” Griffiths concluded.

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