The United Nations has warned of a looming drought-relatedhumanitarian crisis in Somalia where about 1.7 million people will face food insecurity until June.
George Conway, acting deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, cautioned on Thursday that the harsh drought conditions currently afflicting much of the country are likely to trigger a major humanitarian crisis if urgent action is not taken to contain the situation.
“A major challenge right now is the underfunding of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, currently only funded to 19 percent for the year, which is very worrying with the current extent of the humanitarian crisis that is evolving,” Conway said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
He issued warning after a visit to Baidoa, the interim capital of South West State while he was assessing the effects of the prolonged drought on vulnerable populations in the area.
The UN official said the situation required strong advocacy with donor and financing partners to bring the humanitarian response up to scale, “so we don’t find ourselves in Somalia in a situation where people are moving increasingly into crisis and potentially over the edge into more disastrous conditions.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), drought conditions in the 2018/19 Deyr rainy season have led to an increase in the number of people designated as “food insecure” in Somalia since October of 2018.
OCHA warned that a deterioration into crisis conditions is expected in many pastoral and agro-pastoral areas during the month of May, due to funding shortfalls that may hamper a full implementation of the planned food assistance.
The day-long trip with other UN officials including partners included a visit to temporary shelters in Baidoa to assess the living conditions of internally displaced persons and weigh up appropriate measures to alleviate their suffering.
In 2018, a drought spanning four consecutive below average rainy seasons left about 6.2 million people in need of emergency aid such as food, water and shelter. That prompted the UN to launch an aid appeal of some 1.6 billion U.S. dollars to help address the crisis.