2017 IN REVIEW
Humanitarian situation in 2017
The humanitarian situation in Somalia drastically deteriorated in the first half of 2017, leading to a robust scale up of relief operations across the country with the single joint objective – to avert famine. Prolonged drought conditions in a fragile environment led to spikes in food insecurity, surging disease outbreaks and massive internal displacement throughout the year. Underlying vulnerability due to protracted crisis, limited access to basic services and conflict remained the key drivers of humanitarian needs.
Drought conditions, food security and malnutrition
The consecutive failure or below average performance of 2016 and 2017 rains led to the spike in the number of people in need to 6.7 million by mid-2017. This number has since declined to 5.4 million, also due to the collective response of national and international actors that was scaled up and sustained in 2017, with up to 3.2. million reached with assistance on a monthly basis.
The humanitarian situation, however, remained critical at the end of 2017, with some 2.7 million people projected to be in Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) between January and June 2018. The number of children under the age of five who were acutely malnourished was estimated at 301,000, including 48,000 who were severely malnourished and faced an increased risk of disease and death.
Internal displacement remained major protection concern
Internal displacements increased, nearly doubling the pre-crisis displacement figures. More than one million people were displaced by drought and conflict in 2017, bringing the total number of displaced to over 2.1 million. Displaced communities are often living in overcrowded settlements and are disproportionately exposed to protection risks, such as discrimination, child rights violations and gender-based violence (GBV).
Prevalence of disease outbreaks
Disease outbreaks remain prevalent due to limited access to basic services such as health care and sanitation. Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera was reported in 52 districts in 16 regions out of the 18 regions in Somalia. A cumulative total of 78,784 cases with over 1,159 related deaths reported between January and December 2017. By the end of the year, the number of active cases had, however, gone down, thanks to concerted efforts from humanitarian partners. Some 23,002 suspected measles cases were reported, which is alarmingly high compared to previous years. Among these cases, 83 per cent were children under 10 years of age.
Security and access constrains
The operating environment in Somalia remained complex and dangerous. A combination of access-related constraints continued to impede the ability of humanitarian organisations to reach people in need in a timely manner and close to the places of their origin or residence, often tilting response to locations of converged displacement.
The year witnessed rising violence against humanitarians, particularly those with operations in southern and central Somalia. Over 170 violent incidents impacted humanitarian organisations and led to the death of 16 humanitarian workers, injury of 33, physical assault of three, arrests and temporary detention of 22, abduction of 31 and attempted abduction of nine. Nine humanitarian workers, including three international and six national staff, were expelled by the authorities.
Frontline responders continued to be most affected, with hostilities, including improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in the populated areas, impacting humanitarian operations primarily in southern and central regions. Indiscriminate attacks in populated places, causing deaths and injuries, accounted for majority of the humanitarian casualties recorded in 2017 and resulted in destruction of humanitarian facilities and assets.
Nearly 100 incidents related to administrative and bureaucratic impediments were reported. As in previous years, there were demands for multiple registrations, arbitrary taxation, interference in procurement, staff recruitment and contract awards, deduction of project funds for monitoring and evaluation, the ban of movement along certain access roads, and clearance of humanitarian supplies at state boundaries and border points, including ports.
Prospects for recovery
Amidst the crisis, Somalia continued to make progress with the establishment of permanent political institutions, paving the way towards a future with greater peace. However, this is yet to translate into an improvement for the majority of Somalis in terms of food security and nutrition, access to safe water, sanitation, health care, protection and other basic services. Another notable progress is the launch of the Drought Impact Needs Assessment at the end of 2017, paving the way towards the long-term recovery, which will require a collective engagement of humanitarian and development actors through 2018 and beyond.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.