The onset of above average seasonal rains in March led to flash flooding and displacement in the southern and central regions of Somalia. The flooding further depletes the resilience of a vulnerable population whose food security and nutrition situation was already critical due to the last four failed rainy seasons in most parts of Somalia. The long standing Somali conflict continues to hamper access to populations in need. The EU has drastically scaled up its assistance since 2017, helping to avert a catastrophe similar to the 2011 famine which resulted in 260 000 deaths.
About half of Somalia’s 12 million inhabitants are food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance. An estimated 1.2 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished, including 232 000 who will suffer life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. The displacement of 2.1 million people in often insalubrious conditions is worrisome and makes them vulnerable to eviction, exploitation, and abuse. The above average seasonal rains in 2018 have displaced thousands of people due to flooding and worsening conditions in already overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements.
In April 2018, more than 427 000 people were affected by the floods, of which 175 000 were displaced. Forced evictions continue to weaken efforts to assist IDPs and to find durable solutions. In 2018 alone, more than 150 000 people have been forcefully evicted, mainly in Mogadishu, Baidoa, and Galkayo. The prolonged drought in most parts of Somalia has devastated vulnerable communities, many of which never fully recovered from the 2011–12 famine. With their coping mechanisms severely eroded, drought-affected populations will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance in 2018. More than 870 000 Somalis are refugees in neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti or Ethiopia. Despite the drought, voluntary repatriation from Kenya has continued with more than 70 000 returns since 2014. The EU’s position is that any repatriation should be voluntary, informed, safe, and dignified.
The European Union continues to step up humanitarian aid for the conflict and drought affected populations as well as the displaced in Somalia in 2018. In 2017, the European Union mobilised considerable funding for the drought response, totalling €119 million for that year. These funds enabled partners to provide life-saving aid in the regions hardest hit by the water and food shortages, as well as disease outbreaks. The international aid effort, which reaches 3 million people each month, has so far helped to avert famine and curtail food price increases. Together, the European Union and its Member States currently provide approximately 60% of all humanitarian aid in Somalia.
The delivery of cash assistance is a priority. Giving people cash to buy essential goods in the dynamic market context of Somalia is proving to be an effective and dignified way of giving assistance. In 2017 alone, more than 600 000 people most in need were reached with EU-funded cash grants.
Other aid includes emergency preparedness and response, health and nutrition care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, and education. With acute malnutrition exceeding emergency thresholds in many areas, the EU supports the treatment of severely malnourished children. Countrywide, more than 310 000 children benefitted from therapeutic feeding and care in 2017 thanks to the support of the donor community and the efforts of local staff.
Health care is another priority given the perennially high child and maternal mortality rates, and recurring epidemics. EU humanitarian aid supports hospitals in Mogadishu, Kismayo and elsewhere; numerous health facilities catering to the displaced; and emergency teams responding to disease outbreaks. Aid operations are aiming to reach the hardest hit regions in the country despite the access challenges.
The European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations have provided humanitarian assistance in Somalia since 1994. In recent years, internally displaced families have received assistance to return home. More long-term development is needed to prevent people from sliding back into crisis and coordination between the EU humanitarian and development departments is ongoing to that effect.
The EU’s humanitarian partners in Somalia operate in a dangerous and challenging context. Access to populations remains a constant struggle and violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law are common. The European Union is committed to preserving the humanitarian space and independence of humanitarian aid in order to reach all people in need.