With around five million people in Somalia in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Rushanara Ali MP is calling on the Government to urgently come to the aid of those malnourished and at risk of meeting their daily food requirements due to a prolonged drought in Somaliland and Somalia.
After more than 250,000 people died in a 2011 famine that hit Somalia, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow has pressed the Government to do more to ensure these tragic events are not repeated.
A prolonged dry period across Somalia has meant that five million Somalis – more than 40 per cent of the country’s population – are food insecure, up by 300,000 from February 2016, according to the latest assessment by the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET). Among them are 300,000 children under age 5 who are acutely malnourished and over 50,000 who are severely malnourished children, according to the United Nations
The drought that many parts of Somali is currently facing is especially acute in the north-eastern parts of Somaliland’s Togdheer and Sanaag regions. According to Somali Water and Land Information Management, the country is currently experiencing “moderate to extreme drought conditions” and that “the negative trends are not expected to reverse until the next rains, which are anticipated in April 2017.”
The UN is calling for $885 million (792 million euros) in aid, however due to Somaliland’s unrecognised status by the international community, it does not directly receive financial aid from international donors.
One significant cause of the drought is the effects of La Nina, which according to the Famine Early Warning System Network, will last until the short rainy season in January. This could further increase hunger levels, according to the United Nations, as poor rains have already destroyed crops and reduced any future yield.
Rushanara has written to the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, expressing her concerns and will be holding a press conference on Monday.
“I have been contacted by a number of Somali constituents who are all very worried and concerned for family members who have been hit by the drought. The Somali community in East London have mobilised and have been fundraising from all sections of the local community. They have highlighted the need for me and the UK Government to also lead in the humanitarian response for those affected by the severe drought.”
“We must work to ensure that the people of Somaliland and Somalia are not the victims once again of preventable deaths. Somalians desperately need our help and we must answer their call.”