One-quarter of Somalis have fled their homes – a new report says. Approximately 4.3 million people, a quarter of Somalia’s population, find themselves internally displaced, marking a record high in the nation’s history. According to a report by the UK-based humanitarian organization Islamic Relief, this grim milestone results from a deadly combination of drought and conflict. The report highlights the desperate situation in Baidoa.
Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM & Baidoa, SOMALIA. By Yahya:
The primary drivers behind this current crisis are the devastating drought that has claimed lives, livestock, and crops, resulting in skyrocketing food prices, as well as the ongoing conflict in the region. Last year alone, an estimated 43,000 people perished due to the drought, with half of these tragic losses being children under the age of five. Currently, half of Somalia’s population of 17 million faces food insecurity, and nearly 1.8 million children suffer from malnutrition, the report reveals.
The crisis has been particularly severe in Baidoa, the city in Somalia’s Southwest State. Vast camps encircle the town, providing refuge to hundreds of thousands of people. Official figures place the population at 740,065, but many camps remain unverified and unrecorded, suggesting that the actual numbers may be much higher.
Al-Shabaab’s blockade of Baidoa
The price of the staple food, sorghum, doubled in the past month from $0.7 per kilogram to $1.5 per kilogram following al-Shabaab’s blockade of Baidoa that restricted the flow of supplies. However, while the blockade has already been lifted, food prices remained high, making food almost unreachable for most displaced families.
Farhan Abdirizak Adan, an Islamic Relief project officer in Baidoa, described the dire conditions: “The city of Baidoa earned the ‘city of death’ nickname because so many people died here during the famine and civil war in the early 1990s. People still die here. There is so much malnutrition as there is not enough food to go around. I see young men and women in their twenties who look like they’re still children because they have so little food to eat. There are women and even school-age girls who are forced to sell their bodies for sex just so they can afford to eat that night.”
The El Nino threat
In a statement, the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) anticipated that the forthcoming El Nino could affect 1.2 million people and flood 1.5 million hectares of land in Somalia starting in October. Riverine communities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1.5 million hectares of land at risk of flooding. The FAO has called for immediate action to protect lives and livelihoods in the country, emphasizing that there is a short window of opportunity to intervene and prevent a large-scale humanitarian disaster.
The scale of the displacement crisis highlights the urgent need for international support and collaborative efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people and help them rebuild their lives in the face of adversity.