STORY: Horn of Africa drought – UNHCR
TRT: 2:18 mins
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 28 February 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
As the drought at the Horn of Africa enters a sixth failed rainy season, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday called for urgent assistance to help millions of displaced people from Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya who struggle to survive amid scarce water sources, hunger, insecurity and conflict.
“With no immediate end in sight to one of the longest and most severe droughts on record, UNHCR is appealing for $137 million to provide life-saving aid to 3.3 million refugees and internally displaced people who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and assistance, as well as affected local host communities,” said Olga Sarrado, UNHCR’s spokesperson at a briefing at the United Nations in Geneva.
Due to a scaling up of the humanitarian response, famine has so far been averted in Somalia, but people continue to battle life-threatening food and water shortage resulting from massive losses of harvest, livestock, and income, Ms. Sarrado explained. Local commodity prices have also remained at an all-time high and are out of reach for many.
“The dangerous confluence of conflict and climate in the region is worsening an already dire humanitarian situation,” said Ms. Sarrado. “As a result, hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes in search of safety and assistance.”
According to UNHCR data, over 1.7 million people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia and Somalia due to the drought, the majority of them last year. In addition, more than 180,000 refugees from Somalia and South Sudan crossed into drought-affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia.
“In Somalia alone, since the start of the year, over 287.000 people have been internally displaced due to conflict and drought,” said Ms. Sarrado. “Due to space constraints, for instance in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, arriving refugees seeking relief from this climate catastrophe have been forced to reside along the outskirts of the camps where assistance is limited.”
As drought and insecurity persists in 2023, humanitarian needs are expected to continue to rise.
UNHCR highlights that IPC Phase 5 - the highest phase of the IPC Acute Food Insecurity scale - has already been reached for some of the people. This is the case when at least 20 per cent of households face an extreme lack of food, and at least 30 per cent of children suffer from acute malnutrition.
According to UNHCR’s Ms. Sarrado, “over 8.3 million Somalis are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between January and March 2023, so just another month to go, including 322,000 in catastrophe IPC phase 5”.
In terms of protection, UNHCR is concerned about the challenging situation for the most vulnerable, which includes women and children who make up 80 per cent of those displaced.
“Both women and children, they have to walk long distances to access water and shelter, and they are most of the time arriving on their own and this of course increases the exposure to gender-based violence,” said Ms. Sarrado. “Also, we know that many children have been forced to drop school to help their family’s income.”
UNHCR plans to support health facilities to step up nutritional assistance for women and children with high-nutrient feeding and medical treatment for diseases. Water supplies will be increased through water trucking and drilling additional boreholes. Cash assistance will be prioritized for the most vulnerable so that they can supplement their food needs and encourage traders to make food and other necessities available.