Protecting People in the Midst of Famine: Responding to Urgent Risks in the Horn of Africa

from Protection Cluster
Published on 30 Aug 2011

The drought in the Horn of Africa, together with the conflict in Somalia, is causing critical protection risks with some 12.4 million people affected in the region. Before the onset of the drought Somalis were facing serious threats to their physical safety as a result of decades of conflict. Today, as the impact of the drought intensifies, women and children in the sub-region become even more vulnerable to physical threats and attack as they search for food, water and access to medical care. Straining to find the basic necessities of life, families risk separation.

While the shelter, health and nutritional needs of the population must be addressed, the acute protection risks faced by the drought-affected population are often life-threatening and must receive urgent attention.

Main protection concerns

• 12.4 million people are affected by the drought in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. The critical protection risks include forced displacement, family separation, sexual violence and abuse, early marriage of girls and lack of access to basic services. If not urgently and properly addressed, these risks may become lifethreatening for people whether displaced by the crisis or remaining in their home areas.

• Due to the enormity of the crisis, insufficient assistance is available to fully meet the needs of the affected population. Shortages are disproportionately affecting the weakest and most vulnerable people.

• Large numbers of people, especially inside Somalia, are moving in search of assistance and temporarily settle alongside existing communities, many of whom are themselves struggling as a consequence of the drought.
In Somalia, for example, an additional 100,000 people have been displaced to Mogadishu over the past two months, joining over 350,000 persons previously displaced. The IDPs live side by side with the urban poor in precarious conditions thereby overstretching meagre resources.