At least $1 billion will be urgently needed in the coming months and early next year to stave off famine in Somalia, where two more dry seasons are expected to exacerbate a historic drought, the head of humanitarian affairs said on Tuesday. of United Nations.
In a videoconference from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Martin Griffiths pointed out that a new report by an authoritative group of independent experts states that Somalia will be in a famine situation between October and December “if we do not manage to stop it and avoid it as it happened in 2016 and 2017”.
The more than $1 billion comes on top of a request of about $1.4 billion made by the UN, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs told UN correspondents. This appeal has been “very well funded,” he added, thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which in July announced a donation of 476 million for humanitarian and development aid.
The USAID-created Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in a report Monday that famine is expected to break out later this year in three areas in the southeastern Bay region, including Baidoa, if no help arrives. urgent humanitarian.
In Somalia, up to 7.1 million people need urgent help to treat and prevent severe malnutrition and reduce the death toll from hunger, according to a recent analysis of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). its acronym in English), used by the network to describe the severity of food insecurity.
The Horn of Africa region has chained four failed rainy seasons for the first time in more than a century, endangering some 20 million people in one of the most impoverished and turbulent areas of the world.
According to Griffiths, meteorologists expect a fifth failed rainy season between October and December, and a sixth between January and March of next year is likely.
“This has never happened before in Somalia … It’s unprecedented,” he said. “Maybe (the famine) will come to Somalia first, but Ethiopia and Kenya probably won’t be far behind.”
The UN World Food Program has recently provided aid for up to 5.3 million Somalis, which “is a lot, but this is going to get worse if famine comes,” he said, adding that 98% of the aid is delivered in cash over the phone.
But many thousands of people receive nothing, and hungry families spend days, even weeks, scouring dry roads for help.
According to Griffiths, one of the big challenges is getting assistance to people before they leave their homes to try to avoid mass displacement.
Many Somalis raise livestock, which is key to their survival, but he noted that three million animals have died or been culled due to lack of rain.
“The continuing drought, the continuing failure of the rainy seasons, means that the way of life of a generation is threatened,” the British diplomat said.
The international community must help Somalis find an alternative way of life and livelihood, which will require financing for development and to mitigate the impact of climate change, he said.
Griffiths also pointed out that the war in Ukraine has affected humanitarian aid, since UN requests for the whole world receive, on average, about 30% of the funding they need.