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Severe drought displaces further 761,000 in Somalia: UN agency

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- An estimated number of people who have been displaced by the severe drought ravaging several parts of Somalia has risen to over 761,000 since November 2016, the UN said on Tuesday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest report that over 22,000 displacements were recorded between June 1 and 23.

The UN said out of 22,000, 13,500 individuals arrived in Baidoa town from remote villages in Berdaale, Dinsoor and Qansahdhere districts in Bay region and Rabdhuure district in Bakool.

The UN said the cities of Baidoa which had 174,280 of those displaced while Mogadishu (161,100) host 44 percent of these displaced people.

"As of June 23, 16,300 IDPs are reported to have returned to their places of origin in Bay and Bakool regions, with 60 percent of them returning in June. In 2017, 29,087 Somali refugees returned to Somalia," said the UN.

According to the UN humanitarian agency, some 3,769 Somali refugees returned - 3,158 from Kenya, 417 from Yemen, and 197 from Djibouti - in May alone.

Humanitarian agencies say the severe drought has made local communities more vulnerable.

Most have been forced to sell their assets and borrow food and money to survive.

The Horn of Africa nation is in the midst of a drought after rains failed in November 2016, for a third year in the row.

Humanitarians in Somalia are seeking over 800 million U.S. dollars to reach the most vulnerable with life-saving assistance until June.

According to the UN, donors have been quick with their contributions for a scale-up of response and over 600 million dollars has been made available or pledged for humanitarian response since January.


Poor rains to prolong drought in Somalia and Ethiopia:

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Poor distribution of rains is likely to prolong drought and drive food security emergency in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, food security experts warned in a report released on Friday.

The monthly report by donor-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), the early warning system that monitors food insecurity warned that a major food security emergency is also expected to continue in the Horn of Africa into early 2018, following very poor performance of the March to June Gu/long rains, the second consecutive below-average season in many areas.

"The impacts of very poor long rains seasonal performance will drive large humanitarian assistance needs, despite the likelihood of some limited improvements with the rainy season in late 2017," FEWS Net said

According to FEWS Net, improved humanitarian access in Somalia, and urgent, sustained assistance in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, is needed to mitigate very high levels of acute malnutrition and the threat of loss of life.

The report says the start of the March to June rains was delayed by 10 to 40 days across the Horn of Africa, and cumulative totals between March 1 and May 31 were less than 70 percent of average in much of central Somalia, southeastern and southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya.

The report says the regeneration of pasture and water resources for pastoralists has been well below normal in southeastern Ethiopia, central Somalia, and northern Kenya, and July harvest prospects are very poor in most areas of southern Somalia.

"These factors are likely to sustain high humanitarian assistance needs across the Horn of Africa, and drive a continuation of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia, " the report says.

According to FEWS Net, famine is possible in a worst-case scenario in Somalia in which there is a significant interruption in current food assistance in worst-affected areas.

"Improved humanitarian access in Somalia, and urgent, sustained assistance in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, is needed to mitigate very high levels of acute malnutrition and the threat of loss of life," says the report.

The report says large areas of southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia will continue to face emergency outcomes through early 2018, while much of the rest of the Horn of Africa remains in crisis into early 2018.

The drought is having a significant impact on typical agricultural and pastoral livelihood activities.

Harvest prospects, regeneration of pasture and water resources, and improvements in livestock body conditions are being severely limited by this year’s very poor seasonal performance.

The report says sustained, well targeted, and timely assistance throughout the Horn, along with increased humanitarian access in southern Somalia, is required to mitigate extreme levels of acute food insecurity expected into early 2018.



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