The UN Secretary-General has called for a possible famine in Somalia to be averted as soon as possible

NAIROBI (AXADLE) Country directors of national and international humanitarian organizations working in Somalia have sent a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres calling for swift action needed to avert a possible famine in Somalia in 2022.

READ UNDER THE LETTER:

We, the country directors of national and international humanitarian organizations working in Somalia, are writing to express our deepest concern about the possibility of famine in Somalia in 2022. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly, with around 4.5 million people in need of emergency humanitarian aid due to the worsening drought conditions. In addition, weather experts predict unprecedented fourth rainfall in a row below the average during the long rainy season from April to June in most of the country.

More than 1.4 million children, nearly half of the country’s population under the age of five, are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition, and 329,500 of them are likely to be severely malnourished. According to UNICEF, the risk of a severely acutely malnourished child or severely discharged child dying from diseases such as measles or diarrhea is 11 times higher than for a well-nourished child. The number of people displaced internally due to drought since the beginning of 2021 has risen to more than 670,000, of which 425,000 this year, many arriving in urban areas and overloading already overcrowded internally displaced camps.4 It is already estimated 2, 9 million internally displaced people in Somalia and a total Drought displacement could reach 1.4 million by mid-2022 if no emergency aid is provided.

What we are now seeing is an impending famine similar to the one that occurred in 2010/2011, in which more than a quarter of a million people died – including 133,000 children under the age of five.6 Although some donors have pledged to fund Somalia’s humanitarian The $ 1.5 billion response plan (HRP), not even 4% of the funding needed to meet Somalia’s humanitarian needs, has been allocated. Like the new coronavirus that had affected many Somali households, the Ukraine crisis has driven inflation and rising costs in Somalia, particularly for food and energy, at a time when families are already incredibly desperate.

With limited resources, we do our best to meet the needs of those affected, including through emergency water transport, food safety activities and the treatment of acute and severe malnutrition.

However, the international community has not yet understood how urgent the situation is, which is deteriorating rapidly. We are concerned that Somalia’s possible famine is not high enough on the list of international disaster preparedness, now focusing on the Ukrainian crisis. We urge you to encourage donors and Member States to devote additional resources to enable an immediate upscaling of humanitarian efforts in Somalia to avert a possible famine and save lives.

The current drought is a regional crisis and has affected the countries of the Horn of Africa, but the Somali people are facing the majority of it, with an increasing number of crossings to neighboring countries. We urge you to urge the regional authorities to facilitate an appropriate response to the Somalis, most women and children who cross borders to seek help.

We also ask you to urge all stakeholders, including the Somali Federal Government, Federal States and Armed Forces, to allow access and rapid facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian aid to those affected, and where possible, we also ask you to to call on the other side (Al-Shabab) for humanitarian access.

We would be grateful if you could take every opportunity to:

● Note your recent message, continue to expand and highlight the seriousness of the food security and displacement crisis, and call for a coherent international response.

● Ensure that sufficient resources are available to respond to needs, and encourage a Somalia-focused donor pledge conference, as was done in 2017

● Encourage donors and UN agencies, foundations and programs to consider flexibility / recycling of existing resources in the country for drought response, and release development funds to support resistance-building efforts

● Request that all national and local authorities allow humanitarian agencies full, secure and continuous access to those in need.

● Request that regional states allow free movement across their borders for those fleeing the drought in Somalia.

● Encourage the strengthening of the protection of civilians, especially women and girls and people with disabilities, by systematically monitoring and addressing abuse, exploitation, violence and holding perpetrators accountable.

We are running out of time. It is time to keep the promise of ‘never again’, which was given during the drought in 2017, when the immediate action of humanitarian society led to the rescue of lives. The window to avert famine closes quickly. If we do not want to see history repeat itself, we can not postpone the action any longer.

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