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On the brink of famine: Somalia’s humanitarian coordinator witnesses acute malnutrition, calls for action

Wednesday June 22, 2022

Dollow - After witnessing the sweeping consequences of drought during a joint visit with Somalia’s drought envoy today, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the Horn of Africa country called for a major scale up in resources to prevent famine.

“The humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate rapidly,” said Adam Abdelmoula, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “Already 1.5 million children below the age of five are malnourished, and we expect that 356,000 of these may not survive through the end of September this year. Acute malnutrition is about to increase unless we scale up our response plan in a major way.”

Somalia has suffered through four unprecedented and consecutive failed rainy seasons, something that had never happened in the country’s history. Today, it faces a potential fifth.

“Already half of the population, 7.1 million Somalis, are in need of food assistance,” said the top humanitarian official. “If the fifth rainy season fails, this number will increase significantly.”

Eight of Somalia’s 90 districts are already in famine-like conditions categorized as catastrophic. More are bound to slide into this dreaded category if the funding gap is not met. “I continuously appeal to our donors, traditional or new, to spend the money upfront so that we can save lives as we look at a fifth failed rainy season,” Mr. Abdelmoula said.

No shelter, no food, no medicine

Mr. Abdelmoula was speaking in Dollow, located in Somalia’s southern Federal Member State of Jubaland, where he visited new settlements of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and health centres, and met with community elders and humanitarian partners. With him was Somalia’s Special Envoy for Drought Response, Abdirahman Abdishakur, who was appointed by the president in late May.

“We have seen that people have come to Dollow to look for assistance because here they have access to aid agencies,” Mr. Abdishakur said during the visit to the Kabasa IDP camp. “But we have witnessed many of them who arrived just a few days ago who are in desperate need and who have not received assistance.”

The Kabasa camp, which was established in May, already hosts 300 families from all over Somalia. It is one of many thousands across the country. While Dollow has an estimated population of almost 90,000 people, the district is home to about 145,668 internally displaced people.

Without the means to cater for current IDPs, Dollow continues to receive new people mostly from Bay and Bakool and within Gedo region due to food insecurity. Spontaneous returnees from Ethiopia are also putting pressure on existing services such as water, health, education and nutrition. 


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