UNHCR appeals for life-saving aid for millions affected by catastrophic Horn of Africa drought

UNHCR

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo to whom quoted text may be attributed at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for urgent support to help displaced people and local host communities affected by the catastrophic drought in the Horn of Africa.

The drought, a stark reminder of the devastating impact of the global climate crisis, is the worst in the region in four decades and is the culmination of four consecutive failed rainy seasons.

Water sources have dried up and crops and livestock have died, stripping people of their livelihoods and the ability to support themselves.

Food shortages have been further exacerbated by rising food and commodity prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The cost of food staples, including grain and cereal prices, have risen significantly. Food ration cuts for refugees are also imminent as humanitarian needs multiply around the world, while funding struggles to keep pace. An estimated 18.4 million people in the Horn of Africa, now face severe hunger.

As the crisis worsens, hundreds of thousands of people have also been forced to flee their homes in search of life-saving aid. Since the end of last year, more than 800,000 people in Somalia have been internally displaced and nearly 16,000 have crossed the border into Ethiopia.

Families fleeing affected regions in Somalia and arriving over the Ethiopia border told UNHCR they had to travel long distances in search of water and described increased tensions within their communities as the available resources were not enough to cover people’s needs.

An analysis conducted among refugees in the country by UNHCR has also found that people with specific needs are disproportionately affected and the situation is expected to deteriorate further as the drought is set to continue in the coming months.

An estimated 4,000 Somali refugees have also arrived in Kenya, fleeing a complex mix of conflict and drought.

As of May 2022, over 286,000 people in Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regions, the hardest hit by the drought, have also been similarly displaced and hosted within existing settlements for the internally displaced.

To deliver life-saving assistance and protection to some 1.5 million refugees, internally displaced people and local host communities affected by the drought in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, UNHCR is appealing for US$ 42.6 million.

This appeal will cover critical humanitarian needs in refugee and IDP settlements until the end of the year including water, sanitation facilities, nutrition, healthcare and protection. It also seeks to provide cash assistance for those most vulnerable, enabling them to better meet their needs, and specific support for women, girls and children, including the provision of dignity kits and protective services from gender-based violence.

UNHCR will also work with national authorities in the three countries to strengthen border monitoring activities and ensure that newly arrived refugees, including those with specific needs, are provided with appropriate assistance.

Out of the US$ 42.6 million appeal, US$ 22 million is intended to support the needs of internally displaced people in Ethiopia in the Somali, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) regions in the country, as well as Somali refugees hosted in eight camps in the Somali region.

Another US$ 11.1 million would help UNHCR support refugees and their hosts in Kenya’s Kakuma and Dadaab camps.

An estimated US$9.5 million would also meet the needs of both internally displaced people and refugees in Somalia, where the multi-agency humanitarian response has already shifted to famine prevention and mitigation due to the intensity of the drought as well as constraints in humanitarian access to affected populations.

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