Somalia is experiencing the country’s worst drought in 40 years which has led to a severe famine in the worst affected areas. The drought coupled with a ban on humanitarian assistance by Islamist group Al-Shabab has caused Somalia to be left in quickly deteriorating circumstances. Instances of violence, food shortages and the spread of many drought-related diseases have negatively affected the country and caused many people to be internally displaced.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 975,000 displacements in Somalia with 82 percent, or 804,000 displacements, related to drought and its effects. The rest of the displacements are caused by the conflicts and insecurities threatening the country.
According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), the estimated number of people in need of humanitarian aid in Somalia has decreased from 6.7 million people to 6.2 million, which shows that the situation is improving. However, localized famine, daily violent attacks and the ongoing ban set in place by Al-Shabaab, which if broken leads to brutal punishments, make it hard for aid workers to provide assistance to people still in need.
Aid workers have been highly targeted by Al-Shabaab and many of them are victims of abductions by armed militants. Al-Shabaab imposed the ban on humanitarian aid in Somalia in July 2017. The ban mostly covers areas under his control and has forced hundreds of thousands of people to choose between death from starvation or violent punishement. Communities were told by the militant group that they would experience extreme punishment if they called or had any contact with humanitarian agencies.
Even though aid officials and international human rights organizations have provided humanitarian aid to Somalia and saved many lives, conditions within the country are still deteriorating, with almost half of the population facing starvation if no help is received in the coming months.
After the deadly truck attack on October 14, Somalia needs help more than ever. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to the attack by providing $100,000 to a partner organization so that emergency medical supplies could be delivered to the 300 victims of the attack.
– Sarah Soutoul