Situation Overview

Across the Horn of Africa, at least 36 million people are now affected by the drought. According to our latest dashboard of displacement affected populations circulated last week, an estimated 1.70 million have been internally displaced in Somalia and Ethiopia, while over 80,000 refugees have crossed borders from Somali and South Sudan into drought affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia this year.

While the multi-sectoral response to the drought understandably prioritizes supporting critical nutrition, health, and WASH interventions, the ensuing serious protection crisis cannot be overlooked. Increased displacement, breakdowns in family and community support systems, child separation, and escalations in negative coping strategies contribute to growing protection, child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) risks.

Protection delivery is challenged in terms of availability and accessibility to quality services owing to insecurity and limited humanitarian access in some areas. This is further complicated for populations whose pastoral livelihoods require movement for the survival of their livestock.

In Somalia, since the beginning of 2022, the number of people affected by the drought has more than doubled and drought induced displacement has increased more than fivefold. While the earlier projected famine among agro-pastoralists in Baidoa and Buur Hakaba districts and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa town have not materialized, the climate crisis is far from over, and the worst outcomes have only been temporarily prevented.

Somalia is in its fifth straight poor rainy season and below average rainfall is projected for the upcoming April-June 2023 rainy season. Shortfalls in humanitarian assistance will likely push 8.3 million people to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse levels of food insecurity between April and June 2023, including more than 700,000 people facing famine conditions or Catastrophe level (IPC Phase 5). The prolonged and extreme conditions have resulted in higher-than-normal deaths, and excess mortality will continue to accumulate unless assistance is further scaled up and sustained.

The unprecedented multi-season drought continues to ravage Ethiopia.

The chronicl lack of clean water and rapidly deteriorating food insecurity is leading to an increase in malnutrition.

The drought situation has severely impacted eight million people in the southern regions of the country, according to UNHCR data. There are 589,976 drought induced IDPs in Afar (5,598), Oromia (275,962) and Somali (308,416) regions (source: OCHA/DTM). There is an urgent need to shift from “crisis” to “risk” management, adopting a proactive approach based on the principles of risk reduction and prevention. As a first line of defense, monitoring and early warning systems along with assessments of the hot spots of vulnerable populations and regions, as well as investments in risk-mitigating measures have to become an integral part of national drought policies. Drought risk management must be incorporated into both long-term development measures and humanitarian responses.

The humanitarian situation in the southern and western parts of Oromia region has significantly deteriorated in 2022, due to conflict and severe drought. Partners have not been able to scale up the response due to insecurity, access restrictions and limited capacity because of funding shortages. Overall, in 2022, the humanitarian response capacity in western and southern Oromia has been reduced by 50 per cent (source: OCHA). In southern Oromia, violence has affected the response in drought-affected areas, against a significant increase in needs. Damage to public infrastructures continues to hamper the delivery of essential services in areas affected by conflict in Oromia.

From 8 to 13 November, the Emergency Directors Group (EDG) of WFP, UNHCR and OCHA visited Melkadida,

Somali region. The purpose of the mission was to review what additional internal measures can be undertaken in support of the Government of Ethiopia, to rapidly and more substantially scale-up the international humanitarian response across northern Ethiopia and in the drought-affected areas of the country. In their mission report, the team members recommended an urgent scale-up of action on the drought, as coping mechanisms are completely exhausted and a status quo in response would result in deaths; immediate humanitarian aid and resilience programming for the drought response, in coordination with regional authorities across affected parts of Ethiopia, and mobilizing unearmarked, flexible and multiyear humanitarian funding, plus additional climate-related financing streams to be unlocked in order to allow for joined resilience programming.

In Kenya, new arrivals in Dadaab stand at over 80,000. Just over half (estimated 44,000) arrived in the course of 2022. Local communities and refugees already living in the refugee camps in Dadaab have been generously welcoming the new arrivals and sharing limited resources. Adequate space in the camps, where the newly arrived are sheltered is running out, forcing many to reside in makeshift shelters along the outskirts where clean water and sanitation facilities are either grossly insufficient or non-existent.

The Government, both at the County and National level have agreed to the re-opening of Ifo 2 site to host the new arrivals. The government has also agreed on remodeling of the camp into a settlement similar to Kalobeyei to provide humanitarian assistance in a sustainable manner to both the refugees and the host communities. On 21 November, UNHCR joined the Kenya in launching the drought flash appeal alongside the county and national government and other state and non-state actors in Garissa County. The event included the Kenyan Deputy President, the UN Resident Coordinator, and local Area MPs, aimed at raising funds to support the drought affected ASAL (Arid and Semi-arid Lands) counties. On 22 November, UNHCR, together with UNICEF and WFP took part in advocacy meetings with the regional County Commissioner and the Garissa Governor on matters of security and drought interventions, including on the new influx and the subsequent re-opening of the former Ifo 2 refugee camp. The leaders agreed to continue the good cooperation and partnership in the interest of the people of concern and the host communities.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

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