Member agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee are preparing to scale up the work they are already doing in Somalia, as thousands continue to flee to Kenya and Ethiopia to escape drought and conflict.
Nine of the 14 agencies that make up the DEC are working in the Somalia directly or through partners. The existing humanitarian crisis in the country caused by the conflict has been compounded by the severe drought affecting the region.
Member agencies and their partners operate under strict rules of humanitarian impartiality to ensure continued safe access to as many people in need of help as possible.
The United Nations has called for aid agencies to increase their work in Somalia to ensure help gets to those who need it. This followed last week’s announcement by one party to the conflict that it was lifting a ban on foreign agencies working in the areas it controls. DEC agencies and their partners are therefore looking at opportunities to increase their work in Somalia within the constraints of the security situation and restrictions imposed by some donor governments.
Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:
“DEC agencies are used to working in conflict zones, including in areas controlled by armed groups rather than governments. Somalia is one of the hardest places in the world to deliver aid, but we are doing all we can to get help to those in need, while ensuring the safety of our staff and partners.
“Our members are determined to continue helping people in Somalia and to expand their activities. They will continue to go to all great lengths to ensure aid reaches those in need.”
This year’s drought follows four years of poor rains which have hit all communities hard. Farmers and their families have seen the crops they rely on fail. Pastoralists whose families rely on animals have had to watch those animals die. People living in the towns and cities have seen food prices have soar. Child malnutrition rates in many areas are more than twice the 15% emergency threshold and many children have already died of hunger related causes.
Work currently being carried out in Somalia by DEC member agencies and their partners includes distributing food, treating malnourished children, constructing and re-habilitating health centres, providing health screenings for pregnant women and drilling and maintaining borehores.
DEC member agencies will liaise with local organisations in order to reach civilian populations in humanitarian need but remain impartial at all times.
DEC agencies already working directly or through partners in Somalia include: British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK (Somaliland and Puntland), Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision.