For decades, Somalia has suffered from extreme weather such as droughts, and conflict. As a result, nearly five million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including the 2.6 million internally displaced Somalis, and 1.5 million need emergency food assistance. The EU has provided humanitarian assistance in Somalia since 1994. Cash transfers have proven to be an effective way for EU humanitarian partners to provide assistance.
The lack of rain at the end of 2018 means that drought is once again threatening people whose lives have been impacted by years of conflict, successive droughts, forced displacement and epidemics, such as cholera.
There are nearly 5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and more than 1.5 million face need immediate food assistance. Malnutrition rates remain high across the country. The number of internally displaced remains high at 2.6 million people. Over 300 000 displaced people were forcefully evicted from their improvised dwellings in 2018. On average, about 26 000 displaced people are evicted every month from makeshift shelters, especially in urban areas.
For almost three decades, conflict has been the main driver of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. The armed group Al-Shabaab remains the biggest source of insecurity, carrying out indiscriminate attacks on Somalis and kidnapping and forcefully recruiting children. Widespread insecurity impedes access for humanitarian organisations and restricts the ability of Somalis to support themselves economically. More than 800 000 Somali refugees live in neighbouring countries, mostly in Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Yemen.
After committing €119 million during the El Niño-induced drought in 2017, the European Union allocated €89 million in humanitarian aid for Somalia in 2018. These funds enabled humanitarian partners to provide life-saving assistance in the regions hardest hit by water and food shortages, and disease outbreaks. The international aid effort, which reached three million people each month in 2017, helped to avert famine and curtail food price increases. Together, the EU and its Member States provide approximately 60 percent of all humanitarian aid in Somalia.
The delivery of cash assistance is a priority for the EU. Giving people money to buy the essentials is an effective and dignified way of providing assistance. In 2019, the EU continues to support the transition from emergency cash aid to a more sustainable safety net for vulnerable Somalis. Other forms of assistance include health and nutritional care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, education, and emergency preparedness and response.
With malnutrition exceeding emergency thresholds in many areas, the EU supports the treatment of children suffering from life-threatening acute severe malnutrition. Healthcare is also a priority for the EU given Somalia’s high child and maternal mortality rate and frequent disease outbreaks. The EU assists hospitals in Mogadishu and other cities, and health facilities that cater to the displaced. Funding also helps educational facilities to provide quality education for children who missed school because of humanitarian crises.
The EU’s humanitarian partners assist people in some of the hardest hit regions but many parts of the country remain inaccessible for aid workers. Access to people in need is a constant struggle and violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law occur daily. The EU is committed to preserving the humanitarian space and independence of humanitarian aid in order to reach all people in need.
Repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya and Yemen has continued. Since 2014, there have been more than 82 000 and 38 000 returns respectively. While the EU supports this process, it emphasises that repatriation should always be voluntary, informed, safe and dignified.
More long-term development is needed to prevent people from sliding back into crisis. Coordination between the EU’s humanitarian and development branches is underway to that effect.