Politics of Poverty

The international community’s 2nd #EpicFail in Somalia?

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In the overcrowded camps which house tens of thousands of displaced people around Mogadishu, its easy for disease to spread. Photo: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam

Early warnings are not resulting in early action.

Ed Pomfret is Oxfam’s Somalia campaigns & policy manager.

Somalia faces a constant battle against apathy. With nearly 3 million people – a third of the population – are in severe crisis, 26 aid organisations came together to call for the world to pay attention to Somalia’s humanitarian crisis at the beginning of May.

By the beginning of June, the UN also raised the alarm. Somalia’s UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator highlighted the huge funding gap for the crisis and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos also addressed the UN Security Council to highlight how fragile and worrying the situation in Somalia is.

At that stage, just a month ago, the common appeal for humanitarian funds for Somalia was only 19% funded. Though we have seen more money come through in the past few weeks, the appeal still stands at 27%. Although this is a step forward, there is still a huge funding gap. Life-saving programs are at risk of closing, the UN has also warned. Unless major donors step up and take responsibility to save lives in Somalia, the world will see an increase in preventable, tragic deaths.

This time twenty-eight NGOs have come together to call for action again in Somalia. The briefing  “Risk of Relapse: Call to Action” highlights the sort of activities needed in the next 3-6 weeks and the next 3-6 months, in sectors such as nutrition, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene. The provision of diesel to river-based communities to support crop production, or cash for training on nutrition may seem like minor solutions, but together they add up to a package of that can prevent people from falling into extreme crisis.

This briefing, along with the UN’s combined response plan, provides a plan and how much funding is needed for people to survive. There are constant concerns about security and fear of aid diversion in Somalia, but these must not be used as excuses for inaction. The fact is these agencies working on the ground continue to reach people in need. The 28 NGOs and countless Somali civil society organizations and grassroots groups are tackling the crisis, ensuring aid gets to those who need it.

The international community has now received 8 early warnings of a worsening humanitarian emergency in Somalia. In the run up to the Somalia famine in 2011, we had 16 such warnings.

This all adds up to donors needing to put their hands in their pockets immediately to divert us from the path to catastrophe. Let’s see this #EpicFail diverted.

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