More than 220,000 Somalis have been internally displaced due to armed conflict and natural disasters while facing deadly coronavirus since the start of 2020, the UN Refugee Agency said Friday.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, fears these multiple, compounding emergencies will lead to devastating consequences unless there is a strong and coordinated response from the international community, national and local Somali authorities and humanitarian actors to meet the massive humanitarian needs,” UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley said in a statement.
The majority of group, 137,000 Somalis, were displaced due to conflict, he said, elaborating that in both March and April “armed operations against Al Shabab resumed in Lower Shabelle, resulting in more than 50,000 people being forced to flee their homes.”
He also said communities were exposed to crossfire and mortar attacks and roadside explosions while they were fleeing.
“UNHCR believes the humanitarian situation will worsen as COVID-19 further spreads. Most of the 2.6 million IDPs [internally displaced people] in Somalia live in overcrowded settlements and many, especially those newly displaced, live in makeshift shelters made of plastic bags, cardboards and sticks,” he said.
Physical and social distancing is gravely hard to observe and the water scarcity threatens health as it is hardly enough for drinking, let alone hand-washing, Yaxley added.