Nairobi/Geneva, 11 August 2021—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned that Somalia is on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe. One in 4 people face high levels of acute food insecurity and more than 800,000 children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition unless they receive treatment and food assistance immediately.
In addition to food insecurity, Somalia’s humanitarian situation continues to worsen due to multiple threats, including the outbreak of diseases such as Acute Watery Diarrhoea, measles, malaria and COVID-19.
Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said:
“Somalia is one of the riskiest places on earth to live right now. The country is a catalogue of catastrophes. Climate-related disasters, conflict and COVID-19 have coalesced into a major humanitarian crisis for millions of people. We can’t keep talking about this, we must reduce suffering now.”
Somalia is vulnerable to extreme climatic conditions, including repeated cycles of drought, seasonal floods, and tropical cyclones. The country has also been grappling with the impact of desert locusts. People regularly experience loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, malnutrition, and a scarcity of clean water. Seventy per cent of the country’s population lives in poverty, and 40 per cent is estimated to be living in extreme poverty.
The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are likely to lead to worsening nutrition outcomes among vulnerable groups—including poor households in urban areas and internally displaced people, many of whom live in crowded, unhygienic conditions and makeshifts shelters in the context of increasing food prices and reduced employment and income-earning opportunities.
The IFRC, Somali Red Crescent Society and other partners continue to provide support to vulnerable communities. However, the resources are unable to keep pace with needs.
Mukhier said: “We are doing our best to contribute to the reduction of hunger and disease. But, frankly speaking, available assistance remains a drop in the ocean, given the scale of suffering.”
To address some of the many unmet needs, the IFRC is seeking 8.7 million Swiss francs to support the Somali Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance to 563,808 people in Somaliland and Puntland over 18 months. This emergency appeal will enable the IFRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society to step up the response operation with a focus on livelihood and basic needs support, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, gender and inclusion, as well as helping communities to prepare for other disasters.
On 15 May 2021, the IFRC released 451,800 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help the Somali Red Crescent Society provide more than 120,000 people in Puntland and Somaliland with health and nutrition support. The Somali Red Crescent Society has unparalleled access to remote and hard-to-reach families, including those living on mountains or nomadic communities. Its integrated health care programme, with its network of static and mobile health clinics, is a key provider of health services.
In a country with many nomadic and displaced people, it is challenging to reach communities with consistent health care: mobile clinics are one of the primary strategies to fill those gaps. The Red Crescent mobile teams are uniquely positioned to reach patients in areas that lack vehicle or ambulance services.