October 20th marks the passage of three months since the UN declared famine in regions of Somalia. It was the first time in 20 years since the UN made such a declaration, the cause of this natural disaster was the worst drought in 60 years to hit the Horn of Africa.
Other countries such as Kenya, Djbouti, Ethiopia, Erithrea and Uganda are also badly affected, however the natural disaster in Somalia is compounded by conflict, meaning that access for humanitarian assistance is heavily restricted. It is estimated that, three months after the declaration of famine, one third of the 1.7 million people starving in Somalia have still not yet received food aid. The Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva said "We are all very concerned about the highly insecure environment for humanitarian workers who do their best to save and protect lives. This is why I will continue to advocate for greater security for aid workers and will make additional funds available for protecting both the victims of the famine and the humanitarian workers striving to save their lives".
In places where aid workers cannot go to the malnourished, the malnourished have come to them: the UN's refugee agency, with the help of some of the €160million of funding that ECHO has provided to date, have registered the movements of nearly 1.8 million Somalis inside and outside Somalia since the beginning of this food crisis. Three months since the declaration of famine, droves of Somalis are still crossing into Ethiopia and Kenya on a daily basis. This migration has created many refugees camps, among them the biggest in the world, in Daabab where nearly half a million Somalis reside.
An added complication in the coming weeks will be the arrival of the long awaited rains. While rains may bring crop harvest in the long-term, they may also bring sanitation problems and water borne diseases in the short term. Humanitarian agencies will need to brace themselves for these new challenges.
The mobilisation of a further €24 million by the Commission today, three months since the official declaration of famine brings the total amount of funding from the European Commission to €184 million.The European Union as a whole is the largest humanitarian donor for the Horn of Africa, providing over €700 million in assistance since the beginning of the year.