Somalia is recovering from the worst famine in the past 25 years. In the period between October 2010 and April 2012, it is estimated that 258 000 people lost their lives.
Access to food has now improved due to better rains, better harvest, lower food prices and sustained humanitarian assistance. However, the situation remains serious, with over 3 million people still in need of assistance.
An estimated 870 000 people are in acute crisis and cannot meet their food needs. 72% of these are also internally displaced. A further 2.3 million people are classified as ‘stressed’ meaning that their food security is fragile and any external shock can push them back to food security crisis.
206 000 children under five are malnourished and 40 950 of them are at risk of dying if they do not receive treatment. Such persistent emergency levels of malnutrition are not just related to food intake, but also to imbalanced diet, disease, lack of clean water and poor hygiene practices. Somalia is regularly affected by epidemics such as cholera, and is currently facing the biggest new polio outbreak in the world.
Insecurity and localised conflicts continue to fuel displacements while hampering safe return. Armed actors have committed serious abuses against civilians. Currently, 1.1 million people are uprooted from their homes, inside Somalia. A further 1 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
Independent access to areas of south-central Somalia is severely constrained due to the presence of numerous armed actors making it extremely difficult and dangerous to reach the needy populations.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is supporting life-saving interventions where the needs are the highest, focusing on protection, food security, health, nutrition, shelter, water/sanitation, hygiene promotion, livelihoods support, and the coordination of aid.
With over 1.1 million internally displaced people, longer-term solutions are needed for those who wish to either return home or to settle permanently in their new location. ECHO is assisting vulnerable populations, specifically the internally displaced persons and host communities within Mogadishu, in various parts of the centre and south, as well in Puntland and in Somaliland.
A slow but steady process of refugees’ returns has started but at present, large-scale uncoordinated returns would risk upsetting the fragile equilibrium in these return areas where security, basic services and livelihoods opportunities are at best fragile.
ECHO is also assisting with preparations for epidemics and responses to outbreaks in the most at-risk areas, to avoid loss of life and contain the spread of deadly diseases as far as possible.
ECHO will continue to focus on actions that save lives during emergencies such as treatment of malnutrition, emergency preparedness actions including monitoring, and where possible, interventions that increase the recovery and resilience of the communities most affected by recurrent crises.
In the context of continuing conflict, significant humanitarian activities need to be carried out in all areas where needs exist. EU humanitarian assistance is needs-based and guided by the principles of independence, neutrality, impartiality and humanity, in line with the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.