MOGADISHU—Severe drought has displaced more than 135,000 people inside Somalia since November 2016 as the number keep on growing, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.
According to data compiled by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Norwegian Refugee Council and community based organizations, swift and substantial action and adequate funding are becoming urgently needed to avoid famine and a repeat of 2011, when some 250,000 people died, more than half of them aged under five years.
“There have been reports of deaths and illness, although these are not widespread. On Sunday, we received reports of 38 deaths due to drought-linked reasons in the Bakool region of South-Central Somalia,” UNHCR said in a statement.
According to the authorities in Puntland, more than 20,000 families have moved to the Bari region while 1,638 others are in need of emergency assistance in the northern town of Galkayo.
According to the report, people are leaving their homes because of the drought, rising food prices, dry weather forecasts, and ongoing insecurity and are heading for urban areas.
“This includes to Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa. The government is seeking to have aid provided to people in their districts in order to avoid people making long a dangerous trip on foot in search of help,” UNHCR said.
Through an inter-agency response, UNHCR and partners are working to mitigate against deterioration into famine including tackling rising malnutrition, limiting displacement, and containing disease outbreaks and enhancing protection.
“This includes through the provision of emergency shelter and aid items to thousands of people and through strengthened protection monitoring,” UNHCR said.
Drought is also pushing some to flee the country. as at the start of the year, over 3,770 Somali new arrivals have been recorded at Melkadida in Ethiopia, and acute malnutrition has been reported in around 75 percent of arriving child refugees.
“No substantial movement into Kenya has been reported so far,” it said. The drought comes as UNHCR continues its voluntary repatriation program for Somali refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab complex, which has brought home 49,985 people since December 2014.
“UNHCR is informing people in the camps about the drought, but so far this does not appear to have had a major effect on returns,” it said.