The UN Urges a “Scale Up” of Assistance to Somalia

The drought serves as a harrowing reminder of the 2010-12 famine (Flickr) The UN recently urged a “massive and urgent scale up of humanitarian assistance in the coming weeks” to Somalia, where it is reported that 6.2 million (over half of the population) need assistance. This figure includes 363,000 children “in need of critical nutrition support,” and “71,000 in need of life-saving treatment.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 1.9 million people are at risk of dying due to “a lack of access” to life-saving health services. Somali authorities are working to achieve “real improvements in socio-economic indicators” and to provide life-saving services to those at risk, according to the OCHA report.

Causes of the humanitarian crisis include drought and flooding, among other long-standing issues. The drought serves as a harrowing reminder of the 2010-12 famine, when “more than a quarter of a million people died,” including “258,000 in southern and central Somalia and 133, 000 children under the age of five.”

Extremist groups like al-Shabab have impeded western efforts to assist certain areas of the country. For example, al-Shabaab has not allowed for food aid and denied the existence of the famine. According to Richard Trenchard, the Food and Agriculture Organization Representative for Somalia, “labour prices [in Somalia] are collapsing, local food prices are rising, food availability is becoming patchy, animal deaths are increasing, and malnutrition rates are rising, especially among children. Together, these are all signs that we are entering a phase that can lead to catastrophe.”