Stepping up the response in the Horn of Africa
UN agencies and humanitarian partners are rallying to provide life-saving assistance to 12.4 million people across the Horn of Africa, but needs are rising.
“This will not be a short crisis,” Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Valerie Amos warned at an Emergency Ministerial Meeting held in Rome, Italy earlier this week. The emergency is expected to persist at least three to four months, and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance could increase by as much as 25 per cent.
In a new regional overview, the UN warned that the famine in two regions of Somalia could spread through the rest of the south within one to two months, if the humanitarian response did not increase alongside rising needs.
A food crisis, triggered by drought, conflict and high food prices, has gripped the region, affecting parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia. Famine has been declared in two provinces in southern Somalia.
While much more is needed, water, food, shelter, protection and health and sanitation services are already reaching some of the most vulnerable people.
A US$51.3 million allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund, an OCHA-managed emergency fund, released on 22 July, helped kick-start much needed relief. This funding will enable the delivery of over 40,000 tons of food, among other projects.
The most urgent aid is for thousands of people fleeing Somalia for Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as those displaced inside their own countries. Many children are arriving at their destinations severely malnourished. One response: UNICEF is scaling up interventions to support treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in Ethiopia: there are now 8,105 sites that have treated 78,100 children in drought affected areas.
WFP has also started feeding programmes in some of the worst-hit parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The organization has started airlifting food to people into areas of Somalia where access was previously limited.
The new Regional Overview of Humanitarian Requirements for the Horn of Africa Drought provides a more detailed overview of what is already being done by international and national partners. It also called for the scaling-up of relief and warned of funding gaps.
In response, the UN appealed for a further US$1.4 billion to bolster the ongoing efforts, bringing total requirements for the crisis for the rest of the year to $2.48 billion. “If we are to avoid this crisis becoming an even bigger catastrophe, we must act now,” ERC Amos said.