Mogadishu: Millions of Somalis are at risk of sliding into famine as the impact of a prolonged drought continues to destroy lives and livelihoods, and growing needs outpace available resources for humanitarian assistance, United Nations agencies have warned.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for an immediate injection of funds to enable a scale up of life-saving assistance in Somalia.
This follows the release of a new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report that found six million Somalis, or almost 40 per cent of the population, are now facing extreme levels of food insecurity, with pockets of famine conditions likely in six areas of the country.
This is nearly a two-fold increase in the number of people facing extreme levels of acute food insecurity due to the drought and related shocks since the beginning of the year.
It reflects a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation, as millions of Somalis have exhausted their ability to cope with the crisis and funding shortfalls mean humanitarians will be unable to meet the needs of the growing number of people facing emergency.
"The projection for the risk of famine in six locations is extremely worrisome and should serve as a very serious warning if we really meant ‘never again’ after 2011. The reality is that time is not on our side and many more lives and livelihoods are bound to be lost in case of further funding delays," said Adam Abdelmoula, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, in a joint press release on Tuesday.
"I therefore continue to call on the authorities and our development partners to act decisively and help scale up resources to match the rapidly increasing needs, save more lives and rescue more livelihoods for the people of Somalia," added Abdelmoula.
Collectively, humanitarian agencies have reached almost two million people with humanitarian assistance as of February 2022, but a critical gap in donor funding means they cannot sustain and scale up their support to meet the growing needs.
If this gap is not urgently addressed, it will contribute to worse outcomes with a real risk of widespread famine.
The last time such a humanitarian tragedy struck Somalia was in 2011, when famine conditions killed a quarter of a million people.