Somali Prime Minister raises climate concerns, urges global collaboration amid Somali crisis
On Sunday September 24, 2023, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Abdi Barre delivered a powerful message at the 78th UN General Assembly, underscoring Somalia’s status as one of the greatest victims of climate change, despite its minimal contribution to global carbon emissions.
In recent years, Somalia has been ravaged by a vicious cycle of prolonged droughts and destructive floods, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of millions. These calamities have taken their toll on the Somali people, even though the country’s greenhouse gas emissions amount to a mere 0.03%.
Prime Minister Barre decried the unfairness of this situation, expressing the urgent need for the international community to rally behind Somalia and provide support in addressing the pressing issue of climate change. He emphasized the importance of building resilience in the face of climate-related challenges.
This year, devastating floods caused the displacement of approximately 250,000 individuals as the Shabelle River overflowed, inundating the town of Beledweyne. This catastrophe unfolded alongside one of the most severe droughts Somalia has experienced in the past forty years.
Humanitarian agencies have repeatedly underscored that the climate crisis is a leading driver of emergencies, disproportionately affecting those who bear little responsibility for CO2 emissions.
According to the UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA), the floods have impacted over 460,000 people across the country since mid-March, claiming the lives of 22 individuals. In Beledweyne alone, 245,000 people have been displaced, as reported by the Somali Disaster Management Agency.
“Climate change represents an existential threat to humanity, transcending borders and necessitating unified global efforts. The occurrence of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and devastating forest fires serves as a stark reminder of the ramifications of our collective inaction,” stressed Prime Minister Barre to world leaders.
While the Prime Minister called for international support, the Somali Ministry of Environment and Climate Change issued a warning about the potential arrival of El Nino in the southern part of the country, coinciding with the anticipated rainy season in the upcoming weeks.
According to the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), October to December 2023 is expected to have above-average rainfall across most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa.
The ongoing drought has left approximately 32 million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance throughout the Horn of Africa. As of August, the severe drought has affected 7.8 million individuals in various parts of Somalia, as reported by the United Nations humanitarian agency.