Aid agencies say conflict worsening humanitarian situation in Somalia-Xinhua

Aid agencies say conflict worsening humanitarian situation in Somalia

Source: Xinhua| 2023-03-06 23:07:45|Editor: huaxia

MOGADISHU, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Ongoing conflict in Somalia is worsening the humanitarian situation, making it harder for humanitarian organizations to access the populations in most need of assistance, aid agencies said.

In a joint statement issued Sunday evening in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, local and international agencies under the umbrella of the Somalia NGO Consortium said the recently displaced 185,000 people due to the fighting in Las Anod in northern Somalia require urgent humanitarian assistance.

"Millions of people are at risk. There is no time to wait. Without urgently and immediately scaling up humanitarian assistance, hunger-related deaths are likely to be as high as those of the 2011-2012 famine in Somalia, when 260,000 people died, half of them children," Nimo Hassan, the director of the Somali NGO Consortium, warned.

According to the UN, Somalia is witnessing a five-year historic dry spell -- a situation not seen in more than 40 years -- and an expected sixth failed rainy season is bound to displace many more families, as famine looms on the horizon.

The agencies said about 6.5 million people need urgent and extremely high humanitarian lifesaving assistance in Somalia.

They said women and girls face increased risks of gender-based violence (GBV) due to multiple displacements, overcrowded and poorly lit shelters and toilets in camps, and the need to travel long distances to fetch water and firewood.

The organizations said child marriage has become a harmful coping mechanism for families struggling with drought-induced poverty.

"The scale of this crisis is terrible, and the suffering of millions unimaginable. Women and girls are most at risk. We are morally obliged to do more to protect the most vulnerable. Somalia cannot be forgotten at this most critical time," said Paul Healy, the country director of Trocaire, an aid agency.

It is estimated 1.8 million children under the age of five, nearly half of the country's under-five population, will likely suffer acute malnutrition as food security conditions deteriorate, according to the UN.

This, the agencies said, is gravely concerning, given that in 2022 more than 1,000 children died in nutrition centers across Somalia, noting that the figures are likely to be higher as there are many who never made it to the nutrition centers.