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humanitarian aidAlthough known as a country riddled with insurgency, drought and political instability, Somalia, the “Horn of Africa,” is steadily improving. In November, in a session of the United Nations Security Council on Somalia, the U.N.’s top diplomat in the region, Nicholas Kay, expressed positivity about the state’s transformation.

Humanitarian aid has been instrumental in the country’s upward trajectory. The 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Somalia, outlined in 2015, seeks $885 million to reach 3.5 million people.

In addition to decreasing extreme vulnerabilities and outstanding crises, the Federal Government and the international community, has set a goal to decrease the number of people who are unable to meet minimum food requirements from eight percent down to five percent of the total population.

The same study has reported that 308,000 children under age five were acutely malnourished and 56,000 children severely malnourished, with an overall burden of 800,000 malnutrition cases.

In addition to malnourishment, the region also remains vulnerable to extreme environmental fluctuation. The U.N. estimates that as a result of the 2015 drought in the region, over 4.7 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.

The good news, however, is that international organizations like the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee are responding to the need by expanding humanitarian aid to Somalia.

The organizations are providing food assistance, health initiatives and clean water and sanitation improvements. As of April 15, nearly 60,000 people affected by the drought have received food provided by aid organizations, according to a press release made by the ICRC.

In response to the weather severity and its aftermath, Jordi Raich Curcó, the head of ICRC’s Somalia delegation, said, “Unfortunately, this isn’t new or unique; the drought is only the latest example of such cyclical phenomena. We hope our intervention can help some of the affected communities see the drought through.”

In partnership with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations, international players continue working towards peaceful governance and military control within the country.

This support focuses on border control safety, the integrity of refugees and those deported from surrounding regions and human rights violations as a result of local militants.

In making positive steps towards improving the quality of life for the Somali people, regional and international actors remain hopeful that future goals will be met for the betterment of the country.

– Nora Harless

somali food crisis
The United States government recently acknowledged the presence of over 100 military advisors who have been secretly operating in Somalia since 2007. While they are not engaged in combat missions, they have routinely assisted the Somali government by providing their tactical expertise in the Somali effort to combat Islamist militants. Those militants comprise al Shabaab, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization which most notably claimed responsibility for the September 2013 attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya which resulted in 67 deaths.

The African Union Mission in Somalia currently has 22,000 troops stationed in Somalia from various African countries and the United States has stated its intent to aid soldiers of the Somali National Army. However, Somalia is far from a stable country. On July 8 al Shabaab militants attacked Somali’s presidential palace in Mogadishu. They used a car bomb to blast open the gates and then proceeded onto the grounds. Their attack was eventually thwarted by Somali and AMISOM troops but the threat of violence in the nation’s capital still looms.

Despite the various armed conflicts taking place throughout the country, Somalia is faced with another pressing issue: the Somali food crisis. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently disclosed the possibility of a worsening food crisis in Somalia. This crisis would be the result of a predicted water shortage following a lackluster rain season earlier this year, rising food prices in urban areas and dwindling humanitarian assistance in the country.

The food agency also acknowledged the presence of acute malnutrition in Mogadishu which requires intensified humanitarian aid over the coming months. The displaced populace in areas like Mogadishu where armed violence has become regular has served to exacerbate the food crisis. While it is clear that the Somali government is finally receiving the military aid it needs, the food aid it also requires has not yet occurred.

— Taylor Dow

Sources: HORSEED Media, Daily Times, Fox news, CNN, Reuters
Photo: World Vision