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Severe drought has displaced 536,000 Somalis in five months: UN

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- About 536,000 Somalis have been displaced from their homes since November 2016 due to severe drought ravaging parts of the Horn of Africa nation, the UN humanitarian agency said on Friday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said around 70,000 Somalis have arrived in Baidoa and around 72,000 in Mogadishu in March alone, in search of food and water.

"The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate, with massive displacement and diseases continuing to spread, causing extensive human suffering and deaths," OCHA said in its drought situation report released in Mogadishu.

The UN agency said 52 percent of overall drought-induced displacement (536,000) occurred in March.

The drought is also pushing people across borders, with at least 2,000 new arrivals reported in Dadaab refugee settlement in northeast Kenya between December 1, 2016 and March 2017, according to UNHCR.

Preliminary information received so far suggests that more may already be on their way, mainly from Sakow, Buale, Jamame, Baidoa/ Bay region and Jilib.

"Close to 100 of the arrivals in Dadaab were among those assisted through the voluntary returns program initiated in December 20, 2016," OCHA said.

Failure of two consecutive rainy seasons, Gu (short) and Deyr (long) has brought severe drought to Somalia since 2015.

The continuous failure of rain throughout 2016 has made the situation even worse.

While severe food insecurity and malnutrition is chronically widespread across the country, aid agencies say drought in Puntland and Somaliland has deepened and expanded to Southern and Central regions increasing need to pre-2011 drought levels.

The UN said projections for the coming six months are not encouraging, with continued deterioration foreseen for the coming three months till the end of June, and only a slight improvement during the following three months from July through September.

The food security situation has further deteriorated in the month of March, which is usually the peak of the pastoral lean season, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net).

Food security is expected to only improve slightly from July through September following the Gu harvest and improvement in livestock conditions, says FEWS Net, the famine early warning system that monitors food insecurity.

The UN said national and international NGOs and UN agencies have worked together to reach more than 1.1 million people with safe water in March alone.

According to OCHA, donors have moved quickly to generously support scale-up of response and over 558 million dollars has been made available or pledged for humanitarian assistance since January.


African Union commend Uganda for its contribution in stabilizing Somalia




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