The European Commission has announced new humanitarian assistance of €60 million to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, who have been facing critical levels of food insecurity due to severe drought.
"The situation in Horn of Africa has drastically deteriorated in 2017 and it keeps getting worse. Millions of people are struggling to meet their and their families' food needs. The risk of famine is real. The European Union has been following the situation closely since the very beginning and progressively increasing aid to the affected populations. This new package will help our humanitarian partners scale up the response further and keep bringing lifesaving assistance to people in need," said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
The Horn of Africa region has been affected by prolonged drought brought on by a succession of failed rains. The most badly affected areas are south-eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Somalia where a pre-famine alert has been issued. Some 17 million people are in urgent need of food to survive, while the countries' coping capacities are exhausted. To further compound the situation, all three countries are grappling with a cholera outbreak.
EU humanitarian partners are already on the ground responding to the needs of the affected populations. The additional €60 million in EU assistance will support humanitarian partners in stepping up emergency food assistance and treatment of malnutrition. The aid will also support projects addressing water supply, livestock protection and response to disease outbreaks. The bulk of the funding (€40 million) will help the most vulnerable people in Somalia, while €15 million will go to Ethiopia and €5 million to Kenya.
Millions of people in the Horn of Africa are affected by food insecurity and water shortages. Vegetation is sparse. Livestock deaths, high food prices and reduced incomes are being reported. As a result of the poorly performing rainy season, the next harvests will be greatly reduced and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming months.
The drought comes on the heels of erratic weather caused by the El Niño phenomenon in 2015-16. In Ethiopia, it prompted the biggest drought response operation in the country's history.
The region also hosts 2.3 million refugees – the majority of whom are from Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia - and is struggling to meet their increasing needs.
Since 2011, the EU has allocated over €1 billion in humanitarian aid to its partners in the Horn of Africa. EU funding has helped to provide food assistance, health and nutrition care, clean water, sanitation, and shelter to those whose lives are threatened by drought and conflict.
However, aid for the drought-affected populations is complicated by the remoteness of certain areas, as well as by the ongoing violence in Somalia. All parties to the conflict are therefore urged to provide unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need.