COVID-19 compounds crisis facing Somalia

Flooding in Belet Weyne, Somalia. /UNSOM

The COVID-19 pandemic has ballooned the threat of a humanitarian crisis in Somalia which is already reeling from effects of floods and a locust invasion, the United Nations says.

The UN warns that the deteriorating situation risks reversing political and security gains made in Somalia in recent years.

The agency estimates that some 500,000 people have been displaced and over one million affected by recent floods in Somalia’s central regions; a severe locust infestation which threatens food security and nutrition; and at the same time, as the country is responding to the spread of COVID-19.

The Horn of African country was already struggling to emerge from years of conflict that caused massive havoc and created a humanitarian problem.

The country has reported 2,658 COVID-19 infections and 88 deaths, according to the latest data published by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The UN says the pandemic has led to major disruption nationwide, including a reduction in remittances from the diaspora, a mainstay for many Somalis, and a reduction in casual labour opportunities due to resulting restrictions.

Even so, Somalia has been clawing its way to lasting peace, a process that has been hailed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

In her visit to Mogadishu earlier this month, DiCarlo reiterated that Somalia was on the right path to recovery and stability.

“Somalia is at a critical juncture. Progress on the constitutional review could lead to a breakthrough. Unity of Somalis is essential to advance federalism, reduce violence, defeat extremism, tackle the humanitarian challenges and deliver real benefits to the population,” she said.