The United Nations estimates 7.7 million people, half of Somalia’s population, will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022.It is appealing for $1.5 billion to assist 5.5 million of the most vulnerable among them.
Decades of conflict, recurrent climatic shocks, disease outbreaks, and increasing poverty, including the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are devastating the lives and livelihoods of people in Somalia.
They are facing acute hunger. Many are on the verge of famine because the rains have failed to fall for a third year in a row.U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula says 80 percent of the country is affected by drought.
Speaking on a video link from the capital Mogadishu, he tells VOA 169,000 people have abandoned their homes in search of water, food, and grazing land for their livestock.
“When I visited the countryside, I saw many dead animals," he said. "The people I met with, including one woman told me that she lost all her 200 goats, and two camels and her donkey and she and her three children are living under a tree…and the elderly people I met with told me they had not seen this level of drought since the 1970s and 80s.”
Abdelmoula says conditions in Somalia are dire. He expresses concern about a less than adequate response to the U.N. appeal given the fierce competition for funds. He says Somalia has been pushed to the back burner because of emerging crises elsewhere, especially Tigray in northern Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
He adds the international community would be making a big mistake were it to abandon Somalia.
“When this happened back in the 90’s, some serious consequences ensued. This includes mass migration, starvation and famine, the emergence of al-Shabab and the political instability and widespread piracy,” he said.
Recent projections indicate drought could displace up to 1.4 million Somalis in the coming six months, adding to the nearly 3 million people already displaced by conflict and natural disasters.
Humanitarian coordinator Abdelmoula says at least 1.2 million children under age five are likely to be acutely malnourished in 2022.He warns some 300,000 children projected to be severely malnourished are at risk of dying without imminent assistance.