500,000 displaced by drought in Somalia in 3 months

About 500,000 people have been displaced due to severe drought ravaging several parts of Somalia in the first three months, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday.

The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN) said the above figure was in addition to the 874,000 people already reported as displaced in Somalia in 2021, among whom 245,000 were primarily associated with drought. 

“Alarming projections suggest that up to 1.4 million people could be displaced within the next six months,” UNHCR said in its latest drought response update released in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. 

The UN agency has warned that Somalia’s drought emergency has deteriorated to a point where the country was facing the risk of famine.

It said communities across the country were experiencing one of the most severe droughts in decades, leading to the declaration of a national emergency by Somalia in November 2021.

“By the end of the first quarter of 2022, the drought situation had rapidly deteriorated, raising a credible risk of famine in pockets across the country and also causing large-scale displacements,” UNHCR said.

The UN refugee agency said it has been providing shelter, core relief items and cash to 140,000 drought-affected persons across Somalia.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said even before the current drought, about 7.7 million Somalis were in need of humanitarian assistance and protection this year — up 30 percent from a year ago.

According to OCHA, the humanitarian situation in Somalia was already grave due to decades of conflict, recurrent climate shocks and disease outbreaks, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN, government and humanitarian partners said they were ramping up responses in order to meet critical needs and avoid disastrous consequences. 

More funding was immediately required to curb a rising large-scale loss of life across the Horn of Africa as the region was faced with severe drought in its recent history, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) had warned.

“The threat of large-scale loss of life is rising each day and more funding is immediately required to enable humanitarian partners to respond at-scale to this once-in-a-generation crisis,” the UNOCHA said in its latest situation update issued late Monday.  -Xinhua

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