Ireland steps up its humanitarian response to looming famine in Somalia

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D., announced that Ireland has today (Wednesday) dispatched over 100 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies to Somalia.

Announcing the airlift, Minister Flanagan said:

I am deeply concerned that over 6 million people in Somalia are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.Almost 3 million people are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity and there is a very real and significant risk that the situation will further deteriorate to famine, causing starvation and death.This is simply unacceptable in our world of plenty.

In Somalia today there are worrying similarities to the conditions that led to the worst famine of the 21st century when, in 2011, three-quarters of a million Somali people faced famine and more than a quarter million lives were lost.A massive and urgent scale up of assistance by the international community is required to avoid a similar catastrophe this year. Acting now will save lives.

Over 400,000 people have been displaced in the country over the last six month because of prolonged drought, loss of livelihoods and acute hunger. They are congregating in informal settlements with nothing, arriving with only what they can carry. Most have walked long distances to reach these camps in hope that they will receive some assistance. Ireland’s donation of emergency supplies that we are announcing today will help to meet the immediate needs of up to 4,000 displaced families.rdquo;

Today Ireland will dispatch an airlift, worth over euro;600,000, from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai, where Irish Aid pre-positions relief supplies for use in emergencies and humanitarian crises under Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative.

The relief supplies, including blankets, jerry cans, cooking sets, family hygiene kits, tarpaulins and solar lamps, will arrive in two loads into Mogadishu today (Wednesday) and Friday, and will be distributed by Concern Worldwide to 4,000 vulnerable families displaced by drought and acute hunger to informal settlements located outside of Mogadishu and Baidoa, and in the Afgoyee Corridor, north-west of Mogadishu.

Last month, Ireland also announced new funding of euro;11 million to humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa region, euro;3 million of which was contributed to the UN-managed Somalia Humanitarian Fund to help our partners to provide life-saving assistance to those most in need and at risk of famine in the country.rdquo;

Minister McHugh added:

Severe drought conditions continue in many parts of Somalia following poor and erratic rains over the last two years.In the worst affected areas, poor rainfall has destroyed crops and killed livestock, and communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food, to survive.

If the forthcoming rainy season from April to June is as poor as is currently forecast, this hunger crisis will worsen and further displacement will occur. The situation for children is especially grave with over 360,000 Somali children under the age of five now acutely malnourished.

Urgent action is required to provide emergency shelter and basic services for families that have been forced to move.Ireland is responding quickly through one of our trusted NGO partners.We will continue to monitor the situation closely.rdquo;

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland.