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Somalia: COVID-19 affecting lives and livelihoods

18 May 2020

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A man at Haliye camp for internally displaced people in Belet Wayne, Somalia, is shown preventive measures against COVID-19. Credit: UNSOM

COVID-19 is affecting lives and livelihoods in Somalia, amid other complex humanitarian crises.

Since the first case in Somalia was confirmed on 16 March, some markets, hotels and restaurants have closed due to containment measures, impacting daily wage workers, casual labourers and other low-income earners.

In addition to the virus, Somalis are dealing with floods and the worst desert locust upsurge in 25 years, as well as protracted conflict and significant displacement.

More than 900,000 people have been affected by flooding in Somalia, 412,000 of them displaced. Some 24 people have died since rains started in early April, and at least 29 districts are affected. Infrastructure has also been damaged, and homes and farmland have been inundated. The risk of cholera has increased. 

COVID-19 also threatens gains in the health sector. Unless transmission is slowed down quickly, the surge in cases and the increasing demand for care will put such enormous pressure on Somalia’s fragile health system that it may reach a breaking point, the World Health Organization warned on 10 May.

Most humanitarian activities are ongoing, adapted to the new operating environment.

Humanitarian partners need US$176.4 million, as noted in the revised Global Humanitarian Response Plan, for the COVID-19 response in Somalia.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated more than $2.5 million on top of the Somalia Humanitarian Fund’s $2.57 million to support the COVID-19 response.

As of today, 1,421 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Somalia, with 56 deaths.