Some 44 local and international aid agencies working in Somalia have appealed to UN to take urgent action to avert possible famine in the Horn of Africa nation where at least 6.2 million people face acute food shortage.
In a joint letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday, the agencies urged the UN chief to encourage international community to step up its efforts to ensure that the mistakes made in 2011 are not repeated and push for immediate drought relief transitioning to longer restoration of livelihoods.
“We, the national and international humanitarian agencies working in Somalia, are writing to express our alarm about the possibility of famine in Somalia in early 2017,” reads the letter.
“We are running out of time. It is time to effectively come together and act in a joined up manner across the international system to keep the promise of ‘never again’,” said the agencies under an umbrella organization, Somalia NGO Consortium.
While appreciating the initiatives undertaken by the UN so far, the agencies however said the situation requires stronger partnerships and more commitment to coordination across the international system to effectively prevent a famine.
The organizations expressed concern about Somalia’s possible famine is not being seen with the urgency it demands globally and urged Guterres to encourage the Member States to expedite pledged allocations of additional resources to support a rapid scale-up of the humanitarian response in Somalia to prevent the loss of thousands of lives and avert a possible famine.
“On-going operations to reach vulnerable communities need to be scaled up rapidly across the country. This must include investment in resilience and be done in a way that enables longer-term prevention so families and communities do not slide further into crisis,” the aid agencies said.
In 2010-11, they said, systemic failures on the part of the international community led to a famine in Somalia in which nearly 260,000 people died – half of them children – and the world swore ‘never again’.
Following a poor Gu rainy season (April to June) and failed Deyr rainy season (October to December) in 2016, food security, pastures and water levels have deteriorated significantly across Somalia.
It is projected that famine would be expected if purchasing power declines and humanitarian assistance is unable to reach people in need.
More than 6.2 million people, or half of the population in Somalia, is in need of humanitarian assistance. Close to 1 million children are already malnourished.