UN calls for global support to help Somalis displaced by drought


The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday warned of a growing climate-related displacement in Somalia where more than 2 million people are in need of food aid.

REUTERS – FILE PHOTO Climate change deepening Horn of Africa’s hunger crisis, Oxfam says

In a statement issued ahead of the World Environment Day on Wednesday, the UNHCR called for urgent additional support to help people affected and displaced by drought in the horn of Africa nation.

“UNHCR is calling for more international action to prevent climate-related disasters, scale up efforts to strengthen resilience and to protect people affected by climate change using all available legal frameworks,” it said.

Below average rains during the “Gu” (April-June 2019) and “Deyr” (October-December 2018) rainy seasons have caused worsening drought in many parts of the country.

According to the UN, an estimated 5.4 million people are likely to be food insecure by July, adding that some 2.2 million of these will be in severe conditions needing immediate emergency assistance unless aid is urgently scaled up.

Aid agencies launched a Drought Response Plan on May 20, appealing for 710.5 million U.S. dollars to provide life-saving assistance to 4.5 million people affected by the drought to help avert a humanitarian crisis.

The UNHCR said the drought has also forced more than 49,000 people to flee their homes since the beginning of the year as they search for food, water, aid and work mostly in urban areas.

“People who are already displaced because of conflict and violence are also affected by the drought, at times disproportionally. More than 7,000 people were displaced last month alone,” said the UN agency.

It said three main regions of Somalia – South Central, Puntland and Somaliland – have been affected, despite marginal to average rains and flash flooding in some regions.

“The worst affected areas include the Sanaag, Sool, Awdal, Bari, Nugaal, Mudug, Galgadud, Hiran regions of the country,” it said.

The latest drought came just as the country was starting to recover from a drought during 2016 and 2017 that led to the displacement inside Somalia of over 1 million people as many remain in a protracted state of displacement.

UNHCR and humanitarian partners fear that severe climatic conditions combined with armed conflict and protracted displacement could push the country into a far bigger humanitarian emergency.

“Decades of climatic shocks and conflict have left more than 2.6 million people internally displaced,” UNHCR said.

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