Two decades of conflict and worsening cycles of drought and flooding have turned Somalia into one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. In 2011, famine was declared in six regions of south and central Somalia where 750,000 people were at risk of starvation. An estimated 2.12 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance; of these, 800,000 are internally displaced.
In 2011, the crises in Somalia have resulted in more people being displaced, both within Somalia and into neighbouring countries. There are over 1.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) settled in the south-central region, and over one million Somalis now live as refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen. Ongoing military operations / skirmishes within the country in 2012 continue to uproot people from their homes. Civilians in Somalia bear the brunt of the fighting.
A further complication is that Somalia remains extremely dangerous for aid workers who have been declared legitimate targets of the conflict and many agencies have been expelled. In 2011 alone, 22 aid workers were killed, seriously wounded or kidnapped in Somalia, representing 7% of all serious incidents against aid workers worldwide.
The European Commission is supporting life-saving interventions in the south-central regions concentrating on food security, health, nutrition, shelter, water sanitation, hygiene promotion, livelihoods support, and the coordination of aid. The Commission is also extending assistance to other vulnerable populations, specifically to internally displaced persons and host communities in Puntland and Somaliland.
Helping Somalis to better cope with future crises such as drought and flooding is also a key focus of the Commission's funding. ECHO is striving to ensure partners on the ground are prepared to meet the most urgent and critical needs. At the same time the Commission is working towards better bridging the links between life-saving humanitarian assistance and medium to longer term development activities in order to build the resilience of communities in the drought-prone regions of Somalia.
In providing assistance inside Somalia, the Commission is wholly dependent on the implementation capacity of its partners on the ground and on humanitarian access. As Somalia is too dangerous for most aid agencies to maintain expatriate workforce, many of the European Commission's partners have resorted to 'remote management', a system where operations are de facto managed from offices in either northern Somalia or in neighbouring Kenya.