UN warns of looming drought-related humanitarian crisis in Somalia

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A senior United Nations official has cautioned that the harsh drought conditions currently afflicting much of Somalia are likely to trigger a major humanitarian crisis if urgent action is not taken to contain the situation.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, currently only is funded to 19 percent for the year, which is very worrying with the current extent of the humanitarian crisis that is evolving,” said Conway, who is also the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.
During a visit, the DSRSG said the situation required strong advocacy with donor and financing partners to bring the humanitarian response up to scale, “so we don’t find ourselves in Somalia in a situation where people are moving increasingly into crisis and potentially over the edge into more disastrous conditions.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), drought conditions in the 2018/19 rainy season have led to an increase in the number of people designated as “food insecure” in Somalia since October of last year. OCHA warned that a deterioration into crisis conditions is expected in many pastoral and agro-pastoral areas during the month of May, due to funding shortfalls that may hamper a full implementation of the planned food assistance.
Conway was accompanied by Monika Agnete Pollan Thowsen, senior advisor on humanitarian affairs at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Svein Olav Svoldal, first secretary at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi, and Matija Kovac, the head of OCHA’s Humanitarian Financing Unit.
The day-long trip included a visit to temporary shelters in Baidoa to assess the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and weigh up appropriate measures to alleviate their suffering.
The visiting delegation also held discussions on the unfolding humanitarian crisis with the President of South West State, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed “Laftagareen,” and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who work with IDPs.
“Today we received a delegation that came to assess the humanitarian situation in South West, particularly in Baidoa. We discussed the pressing challenges – mainly the delayed rains, how to scale up humanitarian response, and how to mobilize resources to tackle the drought affecting our people,” President Laftagareen said.
Last year, a drought spanning four consecutive below average rainy seasons left about 6.2 million people in need of emergency aid such as food, water and shelter. That prompted the UN to launch an aid appeal of $1.6 billion to help address the crisis.
To prevent the situation from worsening, the Norwegian government is already supporting a number of projects in Baidoa and planning to boost humanitarian support in South West State in conjunction with the UN.
“We are on a monitoring mission to Baidoa together with the UN and the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. We have a partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council and we support Save The Children. We were able to interact with IDP communities and learned the current challenges faced by the growing IDP population,” observed Thowsen.
Noorta Abdi Osman was displaced by the drought from the settlement of Hawaal Barbaar, which is situated 30 kilometres outside of Baidoa. She lamented the shortage of water and the mounting humanitarian needs at the Hawlwadaag camp where she is now living.
“Our challenges have doubled since coming here – shortage of water, no food to eat, and no end in sight to the drought. We seek assistance from the international community and the South West administration,” Ms. Osman said.
Fadumo Ali Mohamed, a 45-year-old mother who was also displaced by the prolonged drought in the Bakool region of the state, thanked the donors for constructing a borehole in the Hanaano camp because the project has helped alleviate their plight.
The delegation also visited a school project at the Hawlwadaag camp to witness the efforts being made by local NGOs to educate children uprooted by the ongoing drought.

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