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Humanitarian Watch

Somalis needing food aid increase to 6.7 mln: UN

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A child eats food at Misan Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, on Feb. 12, 2017. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

MOGADISHU, May 18 (Xinhua) — An estimated number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia has increased to 6.7 million, more than half the population of the country, the UN said on Wednesday.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate despite the rains, which are below average in all areas.

The OCHA said in its latest report on drought situation in Somalia that the ongoing drought also increases risk of famine-induced displacement in the region.

Since November 2016, more than 683,000 people in Somalia have been internally displaced by drought, including more than 377,000 displaced during the first quarter of 2017.

“The humanitarian situation in Somalia has deteriorated further and an elevated risk of famine in 2017 persists in some parts. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased to 6.7 million people, up from 6.2 million,” said the UN agency.

According to the OCHA, a total of 3.2 million people are expected to face “crisis and emergency levels” of food insecurity through June.

The prolonged drought has led to a lack of water and the largest outbreak of cholera Somalia has seen in the last five years with nearly 38,000 cases and almost 683 deaths so far in 2017, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

“With the beginning of the rainy season and projected flooding, these numbers are expected to increase to 50,000 cases by the end of June,” said the OCHA.

Cases of measles are also on the rise with over 7,600 cases reported this year, 65 percent of them affecting children under five.

The Gu rainfall started two weeks later than normal this year and has been below average in all areas, except in the northeast where rainfall totals have been near average.

To respond to the growing needs, humanitarian partners in Somalia have revised the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.

The revised HRP presented at the London Somalia Conference on May 11 seeks 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to reach 5.5 million people with life-saving assistance in 2017.

In response to the early alarm that Somalia is at risk of famine at the beginning of the year, donors at the London conference provided 634 million dollars since the beginning of the year. The remaining gap is of 875 million dollars.

Humanitarian Watch

More Than 130 Somali Refugees Repatriated from Yemen

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GENEVA — In a joint operation funded by the United States, the U.N. migration and refugee agencies have repatriated 134 Somali refugees from war-torn Yemen.

A refugee boat carrying 73 men and women and 61 children left the Yemeni port of Aden on Monday and is to arrive Tuesday at the Somali port of Berbera. It is the third voluntary return of Somalis organized by the International Organization for Migration and U.N. refugee agency since September.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman said some previous efforts had to be suspended in the past few years because of the risks involved in organizing an operation such as this in a war-torn country.

“Despite security difficulties there and the fact of divided authorities, we were still able to get into an area around Aden that has not always been accessible to humanitarian aid groups and manage this transport,” he said.

The U.N. migration agency reports the Somalis came to Yemen in search of a better life, but got caught up in the conflict and often were subjected to abuse by smugglers. The IOM began organizing the voluntary returns in November 2016. Since then, the agency has helped 1,845 Somalis return home.

Millman told VOA Somali refugees receive a reintegration package to help them restart their lives when they arrive home. He said they often receive a grant of $1,100 so they can start a business, buy a cow, or invest in some other form of livelihood. That acts as a big inducement for refugees to voluntarily return, he noted.

“It is a strong sweetener because the stigma of going abroad and failing is so great that we find this is a very effective way of lubricating I guess is the best word, this process,” he said.

Millman said the cash grant ends up being less expensive for the donor than the cost of keeping a refugee or migrant in detention in Europe. He noted that the repatriation project is funded by a $4.4 million donation from the United States.

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Humanitarian Watch

Somalia faces yet another famine

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Somalia is facing its second major famine in six years.

Under the shadow of that threat, one aid group is making a difference for the many Somalis who have lost loved ones and their homes.

When it struck in 2011, the Turkish Red Crescent was among the first international aid groups to help. And it hasn’t left Somalia since.

TRT World’s Editor-at-Large Ahmed al Burai, has more.

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Humanitarian Watch

9 dead, more at a risk as drought ravages Somalia

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A severe drought has claimed the lives of at least nine people in Somalia’s Galkayo District, media reported.

The state broadcaster, Mogadishu Radio, quoted Galkayo Mayor Hersi Yusuf Bare giving the statistics while warning that the situation could get worse.

“The destitute people I met at Harhaar pastoral land are deeply susceptible to the effects of the famine generated by the severe drought,” said Mr Bare.

“So far, nine people have died in the areas visited, a sign that many more were vulnerable,” he added.

The mayor said the severe weather conditions had displaced thousands from Galkayo, which lies some 750km north of the capital Mogadishu.

He stressed that many nomadic people had been forced to migrate as the drought continued to decimate most of their livestock.

The generally insufficient rains in the southern and central Somalia have severely diminished the local food supplies.

UN agency OCHA on August 31 stated that malnutrition had reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia.

“Malnutrition, one of the leading indicators of the crisis, has reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia, primarily, though not exclusively among displaced populations,” OCHA was quoted saying in ReliefWeb .

“Overall, some 388,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of critical nutrition support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children.”

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