This note summarises the directives promulgated (either written or verbal) by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Federal Member States (FMS) aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19; and identifies the impact of the restrictions on the general population and humanitarian operations.
The FGS and the FMS continue to take necessary measures to mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Somalia. Since 16 March 2020, a total of 35 COVID-19 related directives / statements have been issued, either in writing or verbally.
As of 16 April, one directive aimed at closure of mosques was rescinded1 in Puntland following pressure from the public. Twenty-two of the 35 directives relate to social distancing; the closure of academic institutions and restrictions on population movement. Five impose suspensions on either international and domestic passenger flights. Six relate to border closures. Three impose night-time curfews. One directive relates to the registration of deceased persons for burial A final directive is on tax exemption on basic commodities aimed at mitigating the economic impact experienced by the population from the various measures, despite government revenue also falling significantly due to reduced tax income and collection of fees.
Application of directives
Currently, 11 out of 12 airports, one out of eight seaports and 17 out of 21 land borders are closed. Hargeisa airport is still allowing Ethiopian Airlines flights to and from Addis. Port fees and taxes on imports represents a significant portion of income for the FGS and FMS. (See interactive map on https://covid19som-ochasom.hub.arcgis.com/). However, reports show that land borders remain porous and movement across borders has been observed. Khat from Ethiopia continues to arrive daily in Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West.
Efforts to scale up and implement these prevention measures remain a challenge in consideration of social practices and livelihood impacts associated with preventive measures.
General across all states:
Based on the UNFPA Population Estimate Survey (PESS), the Education Cluster estimates that as many as 1.5 million school children are out of class due to closure of schools. On 12 April, Somaliland introduced alternative learning through radio, TV and internet for grades 8 to 12 and that option is being explored elsewhere.
Due to COVID-19 and flight restrictions imposed, the majority of UN and NGO international staff are in alternate working arrangements outside the country, while national staff from the UN and partners are working in a restrictive environment, thus reducing the humanitarian footprint.
Availability and prices of basic commodities has been affected. There are reports of shortages and increased prices of most basic commodities, including pasta, cooking oil and wheat floor. In an effort to offset the impact of rising commodity prices, the FGS announced on 15 April tax exemption on some basic commodities including rice, dates, cooking oil and wheat floor.
Loss of livelihoods due to movement restrictions: Many casual workers and shop owners at airports are unemployed. In some locations, hotels and restaurants are closed. Import and export, especially of livestock, have been negatively affected.
Humanitarian programming in the field is having to adjust to align with ensuring the protection of beneficiaries from COVID-19. For example, in some locations, food recipients have been staggered over days and at specific hours to receive their rations. In some areas delivery of aid is being given in advance so as to minimize the requirement for beneficiaries to collect assistance.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.