- The worst drought in three decades is currently victimising one million Somalis and Somalilanders. Livestock are now dying at enormous rates, according to humanitarian agencies working in the Horn region. Aid is coming late and in particular in Somalia, the poor security situation hinders food distribution.
With up to a million Somalis and Somalilanders "needing immediate humanitarian assistance" because of the countries' crippling drought, UN officials working in the Horn of Africa country today appealed to international donors to "drastically increase their funding." The UN's humanitarian agency OCHA has received less than US$ 35 million so far of the US$ 119 million it needs to deal with the mounting demands for relief from Somalis suffering from the drought.
The current crisis in Somalia and Somaliland is widely considered to be "the worst drought there in 30 years." The drought affects most of Somalia but is worst in the north and northeast, where livestock are dying at enormous rates - including 80 percent of camels - and the rangelands have become badly degraded by the lack of rain. Also the whole of Somaliland is affected, in particular at the Somali border.
Some areas in Somalia's north and in Somaliland "have not decent rainfall for four years," the UN today reports. The self-declared republic of Somaliland and Somalia's autonomous region of Puntland have both declared an emergency in their territories. The border are between Somaliland and Puntland is the most heavily affected area, but both areas are politically quiet, which allows humanitarian aid workers to enter.
The UN's humanitarian coordinator in Somalia, Max Gaylard, said in a statement issued today that Somalis in the north are in "desperate need of help," with many shepherds already abandoning their livelihoods because of the conditions. Mr Gaylard's statement includes the situation in Somaliland, referred to as north-western Somalia by the UN.
But also Somalia's south is strongly affected by the drought. OCHA's humanitarian affairs officer Olla Hassan said the croplands and agricultural districts in Somalia's central and southern regions are now noting the effects of the drought. Cereal production had slumped, further damaging the country's fragile economy, she added.
In southern and central Somalia, which is under the control of different war lords, aid work is made difficult by the unstable political situation. In the Juba Valley in southern Somalia, freelance militias had set up roadblocks, restricting access and increasing the cost of food transport there, the UN said. There had also been violent clashes between sub-clans in west Belet Weyne in central Somalia.
Ms Hassan said Somalia's security situation makes aid distribution more difficult, but the key problem remained the lack of funds. In November last year, OCHA appealed for US$ 110 million for all of Somalia's needs, a total later increased to US$ 119 million. Yet less than 30 percent of that amount had been donated so far. "There is capacity on the ground to provide assistance but there are just no resources," she said.
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