At the end of a two day visit to Somalia, our Regional Executive Director James Curtis appealed to the international community to immediately scale up their response in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster due to the ongoing drought in the country which has reached famine status in certain areas.
In the latest figures reported by UN OCHA, more than 800,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the impact of the drought across the country. The number of people facing hunger has risen from five million to more than seven million. This is an unprecedented situation which has not been witnessed for more than 40 years where the country is experiencing a potentially fifth failed rainy season.
“The impact of the drought in Somalia is devastating. In Mogadishu, I have met newly arrived IDPs who have lost everything including their livestock, their farms and are left with no source of income to sustain themselves, while prices continue to rise. There is need to act now, in a coordinated manner in order to respond to the worsening situation in the country and to save lives,” James Curtis, DRC East Africa and Great Lakes Executive Director.
The executive director stressed that the impact of the drought is escalating rapidly and is outpacing the available resources that have been availed to humanitarian actors. “These are people that need our help now, their needs are immediate, tomorrow is too late for them. While we are grateful for the generous support from donors, there is need for us to do more; we must remember that behind every statistic there is a family with hopes, dreams and aspirations.”
We need help now
We met Fatuma Mohamed, a 75-year-old newly displaced mother of six and grandmother of seven, seated in her small makeshift shelter that barely protects her from the scorching daytime heat and cold nights; there is nothing inside but a makeshift plastic bed with no mattress, some ragged clothes and a kettle containing coffee which was the only intake she had for the day. There are few utensils and other household items. These as she describes are the only items she managed to carry as the drought raged through Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle.
“I walked for more than 95 kms to come to the city. Most of the people in my village left as the crops failed and animals died. The drought has taken everything, we need your help” says Fatuma.
With the deteriorating humanitarian situation across Somalia, DRC has scaled up emergency frontline responses focusing primarily on provision of Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance to severely drought and displacement-affected populations along with integrated assistance to 104 IDP sites.