• Four national humanitarian workers were killed in three armed attacks in October, bringing the total number of aid workers killed in 2020 to 15 people.
• More than 73,000 people have been affected by Deyr flash floods and rainfall across the country, including 4,000 internally displaced people.
• An ongoing locust invasion has affected close to 300,000 hectares of land, mainly in the northern regions, impacting food security and livelihoods for nearly 200,000 people, according to FAO.
• Health partners vaccinated over 1.33 million children against polio including nearly 10,000 who had never been vaccinated before, as the country records 25 polio cases in 2020.
Attacks on humanitarian workers and access challenges hinder humanitarian operations Security and access challenges in Somalia, including attacks on humanitarian workers, continue to limit the ability to reach people in need. Four national aid workers were killed in three separate armed attacks between 27 and 31 October in Afgooye, Banadir and Qansax Dheere districts in South West State. This brings to 15 the number of humanitarian workers killed in armed attacks in Somalia in 2020. In addition, 13 aid workers have been injured and 24 reportedly abducted this year. Threats and violations against humanitarian personnel, assets and facilities, as well as armed attacks against civilians, continue to be reported, especially in areas occupied by armed groups.
Two of those killed were implementing a polio vaccination campaign in Kaxda district of Banadir region. UNICEF condemned the killing of the two health workers who had risked their lives to provide critical health services to vulnerable Somali children at a time when 25 polio cases have been reported in 2020. Somalia is among the high-risk polio outbreak countries because of its fragile and vulnerable population that includes nomads, displaced people and those living in rural and slum areas.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock condemned the killings of aid workers in Somalia and several other countries, stating that, “Attacks directed against humanitarians are a violation of international humanitarian law and an obscene act against people working hard, often in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to help vulnerable people.” The UN chief has called governments and authorities in control of affected areas to uphold the principles of international humanitarian law and protection of civilians and investigating such attacks and bring those responsible to face the law.
The recent increase in attacks against aid workers comes at a time that Somalia is grappling with increased humanitarian needs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (4,300 cases with 107 deaths since March), desert locust invasions, protracted conflict, political and economic instability, and recurrent climatic shocks. An estimated 5.2 million people need humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian community has targeted three million people in accessible areas, leaving millions of others without assistance due to insecurity and other constraints. More than 2.6 million are internally displaced due to conflict and climatic shocks, the majority living in 2,300 congested settlements, often at risk of eviction by landlords in violation of their right to housing and property.
An estimated 1.6 million people have been affected by floods in 2020, including 35 killed and 840,000 displaced, according to protection monitoring partners. The desert locust infestation has affected around 685,000 persons mainly in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug, impacting food security for at least 200,000 people, according to FAO. Overall, more than 2.1 million people are forecast to experience acute food insecurity through December; a situation that is expected to deteriorate due to poor rains and socio-economic challenges.
The humanitarian situation is reportedly dire in rural areas of districts where the security situation and presence of armed groups does not allow road movement of humanitarian supplies or personnel. Commercial flights to some affected areas remain limited partly due to COVID-19 restrictions on movement, leaving thousands of people without access to assistance. Humanitarian partners have highlighted gaps in nutrition interventions among other needs in the affected areas.
Explosives remnants of war (ERW) also continue to pose a threat to civilian lives as well as livestock. Five boys were killed and three others injured after unidentified objects exploded in two separate incidents in Cabudwaaq District in Galmudug State in October.
Amid the security constraints and other operational and logistical challenges, humanitarian partners have been able to reach an average of 1.5 million people per month with assistance. With humanitarian needs on the rise, continued advocacy is required to guarantee security and humanitarian access and ensure that people affected by crisis are able to receive much-needed assistance.
Over 73,000 people affected by Deyr floods, with over 13,000 displaced across the country
Flash floods triggered by Deyr (October-December) seasonal rains have affected over 73,000 people, mostly in Banadir region – especially the capital of Mogadishu, as well as Jubaland, Galmudug and South West states. At least 13,000 people have been displaced by the floods across the country. Local authorities have reported massive damage to infrastructure including roads, residential areas and buildings.
In South West State, overflowing water from River Shabelle has reportedly inundated six villages in Afgooye area, affecting 8,000 people, of whom 3,500 are displaced. In Baidoa, the Deyr rains have affected some 12,690 IDPs, displacing the families from 33 IDP settlements in Hanano 2, ADC and Towfiiq zones. Several houses and latrines have been destroyed.
Heavy flooding in Hirshabelle State has worsened the condition of the roads connecting Mogadishu to Central Somalia, particularly to Jowhar, and Jowhar to Belet Weyne, and temporarily closed Belet Weyne airstrip from 26 to 31 October. According to WFP, the destruction of the roads delayed transport services from Mogadishu port to downstream markets, triggering increased transportation costs and delaying the delivery of humanitarian supplies and goods. In Jubaland State, roads in Kismayo were impassable following flash floods; made worse by poor drainage in the city.
In South West State, authorities and partners reported the destruction by floods of a culvert bridge at Warmaxan along the road between Afgooye and Wanla Weyn in Lower Shabelle region. Over 50 vehicles carrying commercial commodities have been stranded in the area due to floods. In Lower Juba region, the Deyr rains have affected at least 2,000 IDPs in Dhobley’s Danwadaag settlement in Afmadow District. Stagnant pools of water in the affected areas pose a risk of water borne diseases. Major challenges facing local partners include limited supplies already prepositioned in the regions as roads become partially impassable and humanitarian flights limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. In Dhobley, flights to the area were suspended for a week after the airstrip became flooded. According to partners, the major needs for affected communities include shelter, food and non-food items.
Local authorities report that the floods have destroyed about 10,000 hectares of farmland in Jubaland and South West State. Water overflow from River Shabelle resulted in river breakages, inundating 5,000 hectares of farmland in six villages in South West State, while in Jubaland, overflow from River Dawa flooded 5,000 hectares of farmland and affected about 10,000 people in Dollow and Belet Xaawo districts.
The Deyr floods followed the Hagaa season (June-September) riverine and flash floods, which affected over 545,000 people in Hirshabelle, South West and Jubaland states as well as Sanaag and Banadir regions, including 363,000 displaced, according to protection monitoring partners.
Over 1.33 million children vaccinated against polio, as country records 25 cases in 2020
One case of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV) was reported in Banadir during the week ending 21 October, bringing to 25 the number of cases reported since the outbreak in 2018, according to WHO.
The Federal Ministry of Health and Human Services (FMOH) of Somalia, WHO and UNICEF supported the final round of monovalent house-to-house oral polio vaccine type 2 in the central and south regions of the country from 25 to 28 October. Preliminary results suggest that 96.1 per cent (1,337,974) of the target population was reached with vaccines. This included 9,792 children who had never received a polio vaccine previously.
The health response has been complicated by the impact and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted polio surveillance and eradication programs and outbreak controls. Since the start of the year, polio health teams have joined the fight against COVID-19 in Somalia, providing support in tracing, tracking and following up on suspected and confirmed cases. Although health workers were forced to pause regular health services to attend to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the last month, Somalia has taken bold steps to resume regular health activities, including conducting immunization campaigns to stop the spread of the polio virus.
According to WHO, some of the main challenges Somalia faces include reaching vulnerable children who are difficult to access due to security and other logistical challenges and assuring caregivers that polio vaccines are safe for newborns. The strain of polio in circulation in Somalia is different from the wild poliovirus, recently declared eradicated from Africa, but it can put communities where not enough children have been vaccinated at risk and leave children paralyzed for life.
Second wave of desert locusts reported
Somalia is bracing for an escalation in the desert locusts infestation, as a new generation has been reported in various parts of the country, including Hiraan, Galgaduud and some parts of Somaliland (Borama and Hargeisa). According to the FAO, the breeding has been fueled by favourable weather conditions resulting from ongoing rains. The locust infestation has significantly affected the newly planted Deyr crops, pasture and vegetation. In Somaliland, close to 300,000 hectares of land have been affected, risking food insecurity for about 200,000 people (37,500 households). Without an immediate response, the desert locust invasion threatens to increase acute food insecurity among poor households with limited livelihoods and low capacity to cope with harvest losses.
Aerial and ground control operations are continuing, as well livelihood support distribution to the people most in need. FAO facilitated training on control in Galmudug and has stationed two aircrafts to support aerial spraying of the locusts in Puntland. The Federal Government of Somalia and FAO sprayed 39,608 hectares of affected land in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug with bio-pesticides from 1 August to 31 October. These control operations have protected 90,388 metric tons of staple food from desert locust damage, valued at $27.1 million and sufficient to meet the cereal needs of 602,589 people for a year; as well as feed and pasture for 41,959 pastoral households for a year.
Overall, between January and 31 October, an estimated 183,256 metric tons of staple foods have been protected from desert locust damage, valued at over $55 million and sufficient to feed 1,221,704 people for a year. They have further protected feed and pasture sources needed by 85,069 pastoral households to keep their livestock productive. Out of the $56.9 million required for the locust response, $50.4 million had been received as of 10 November.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.