UN Reports Insecurity Prevented 700,000 from Receiving Relief Supplies in Somalia

FILE PHOTO: Residents walk through flooded streets in Beledweyne, north of Mogadishu. (Photo credit MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP)

Some 700,000 Somalis missed food aid in 2020 due to the lack of funds required to make critical relief supplies available and the rising insecurity which made it impossible to reach others.

The UN Somalia’s Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020 released on Tuesday said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and unpredictable weather patterns increased humanitarian needs for millions of Somalis already living in widespread poverty, conflict, and insecurity.

The security challenges and limited access to some areas led to the distribution of food aid to 2.3 million out of the 3 million people in need of assistance. The number included 166,000 children under the age of five years who were suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Some 5 million Somalis needed humanitarian assistance last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, desert locust infestations, and floods. The number of people in Somalia in need of assistance in 2020 increased by 24 percent, from 4.2 million in 2019 to 5.2 million, according to the report.

Somalia suffered locust invasion in 25 years. The swarms destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of farmland and pasture. 

In recent years, drought and floods have been major contributing factors, people leaving their homes and food insecurity in the Horn of African nation.

Last year, the Shebelle River burst its banks, displacing at least 115,000 people, mostly from the town of Beledweyne.

Local and international relief organizations said 27 districts were flooded, displacing over 900,000 people and destroying infrastructure, property, and 144,000 hectares of agricultural land.

Attacks on humanitarian workers increased by 69 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Between January and December 2020, 15 aid workers were killed, 12 injured, 24 were kidnapped, and 14 were arrested for doing their jobs.

Some 2.9 million people remain displaced in the country, and 2.8 million will require immediate food assistance by September. 

“Humanitarian needs have increased significantly in 2021 but the funding to respond to these needs is the worst in six years,” said Adam Abdelmoula, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. 

Humanitarian partners can barely meet the basic needs of hungry families, desperate communities and displaced women and children.

So far, $250 million of the $1.09 billion needed for humanitarian funding for 2021 has been released.