Somalia: Report of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (S/2019/799)

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Letter dated 7 October 2019 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia addressed to the President of the Security Council

On behalf of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, I have the honour to transmit herewith the report of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator pursuant to paragraph 49 of Security Council resolution 2444 (2018) on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and any impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

I would appreciate it if the present letter and the report were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve
Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia

Letter dated 13 September 2019 from the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator addressed to the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia

In accordance with paragraph 49 of Security Council resolution 2444 (2018), I have the honour to transmit the requested report on the implementation of paragraphs 48 and 49 and on any impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

The humanitarian community working in Somalia wishes to advise that, as with the previous 13 reports, it maintains the definition of “implementing partner” pursuant to paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 1916 (2010), which is as follows:

“Implementing partner” – a non-governmental organization (NGO) or community-based organization that has undergone due diligence to establish its bona fides by a United Nations agency or another NGO and that reports when requested to the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on mitigation measures. Implementing partners have the following characteristics:

(a) The organization is part of the humanitarian response plan for Somalia (or the Somalia Humanitarian Fund) process; and/or

(b) The organization is represented in a cluster’s 3W matrix (Who does What and Where).

I remain available should you have any questions about the content of the report or need further clarification on the humanitarian situation in Somalia.

(Signed) Mark Lowcock
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

Report of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator


1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2444 (2018), the resolution succeeding resolutions 1916 (2010), 1972 (2011), 2060 (2012), 2111 (2013), 2182 (2014), 2244 (2015), 2317 (2016) and 2385 (2017), in which the Council established the reporting requirement. It is the fourteenth submission pursuant to the above-mentioned resolutions. The Council, in paragraph 49 of its resolution 2444 (2018), requested the Emergency Relief Coordinator to report to the Council by 15 October 2019 on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and on any impediments thereto.

2. The present report covers the period from 1 September 2018 to 31 August 2019. It focuses primarily on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected people in areas under the control or influence of Al-Shabaab, which was included on the sanctions list pursuant to paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 1844 (2008), by the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea, on 12 April 2010. As in the previous 13 reports (S/2010/372, S/2010/580, S/2011/125, S/2011/694, S/2012/546, S/2012/856, S/2013/415, S/2014/177, S/2014/655, S/2015/731, S/2016/827, S/2017/860 and S/2018/896), the present report outlines constraints to humanitarian access and operational implications. In addition, it summarizes mitigation measures established to address the risks of politicization, misuse and misappropriation of humanitarian assistance. The report is based on information synthesized in consultation with relevant humanitarian organizations active in Somalia and information from the Risk Management Unit in the Integrated Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

Humanitarian situation

3. The humanitarian situation in Somalia remains fragile owing to the impact of recurrent climate shocks, including the prolonged drought in 2016 and 2017, poor deyr rains in 2018 (October to December), unusually hot and dry conditions during the jilaal season in 2019 and the erratic and abnormal performance of gu rains in 2019 (April to June). Climate shocks, combined with other persistent drivers of need, such as armed conflict and protracted and continued displacement, have left millions of Somalis in need of assistance and protection.

4. According to the 2019 post-gu assessment results, released on 2 September by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, cereal production was up to 70 per cent below average in southern Somalia during the gu 2019 cropping season. The resulting harvest shortfall is linked to abnormally high prices of sorghum throughout the season. The situation is likely to be even worse in conflict-affected areas, where people are displaced from their land or face involuntary and illegal taxation by Al-Shabaab, reducing incentives for agricultural production. The results of the 2019 post-gu assessment indicate that, in the absence of humanitarian assistance, up to 2.1 million people across Somalia will face severe hunger by December 2019, which will bring the total number of Somalis expected to be food insecure to 6.3 million by the year’s end.

5. Huge food and nutrition gaps remain largely among poor agropastoral, marginalized and displaced communities, where many vulnerable people have been pushed into the most severe food and nutrition insecurity phases. Severe acute malnutrition rates among children are increasing, mainly among internally displaced persons, with preliminary assessment results indicating that 10 out of 33 population groups surveyed demonstrate critical levels of acute malnutrition, with a global acute malnutrition rate exceeding 15 per cent. Interventions to address high levels of acute malnutrition, mainly among children, must be scaled up. Without response, from July 2019 to June 2020, an estimated 1 million children will be acutely malnourished, including 180,000 children with severe acute malnutrition. The prevalence and increased risk of acute malnutrition, coupled with a serious lack of access to clean water, is further heightening the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks and is exacerbating existing fragilities.

6. Among the most fragile people in Somalia are 2.6 million internally displaced persons, who continue to face serious risks of marginalization, forced eviction and exclusion across the country. From September to December 2018, there were 188,000 newly displaced persons, and between January and August 2019, an additional 270,000 people were displaced. While the majority of internally displaced persons report armed conflict and drought as the main reasons for displacement, it should be noted that drought-induced displacement has been on the rise. In the fourth quarter of 2018 and from January to August 2019, 29 per cent and 41 per cent of internally displaced persons, respectively, noted drought as the main reason for displacement. Furthermore, more than twice as many people reported drought-induced displacement in July 2019 compared with June 2019.

7. Ongoing armed conflict and insecurity continues to be a driver of displacement, compounding the humanitarian situation and causing high levels of need and protection concerns. With respect to conflict-induced displacement, 60 per cent of internally displaced persons in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 52 per cent of internally displaced persons in 2019 cited conflict as the main reason for displacement. The Shabelle Hoose and Shabelle Dhexe regions are areas of particular concern, as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army have intensified military offensives against Al-Shabaab. The impact of drought, coupled with the protracted conflict, is worsening protection challenges as families lose their socioeconomic safety nets and capacity to cope with such shocks. Displaced women and children face greater protection challenges, including family separation, exposure to gender-based violence, disruptions to education and the forced recruitment of children by armed groups.

8. Aggressive forced child recruitment campaigns in areas of southern and central Somalia and in parts of the Bari region in Puntland have continued to drive civilians into displacement. For example, from January to July 2019, the country task force on monitoring and reporting mechanism reported that 869 children, including 8 girls, were recruited and used by armed forces and groups in Somalia. Al-Shabaab accounts for an estimated 81 per cent of children recruited in Somalia. Humanitarian partners continue to provide support to children who were subject to forced recruitment by armed groups. In 2018, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners provided reintegration services to 1,466 children in Afgooye, Baidoa, Dhuusamarreeb, Garoowe, Kismaayo and Mogadishu. In addition, from January to July 2019, UNICEF and its partners delivered protection services to 513 children, including 47 girls, who had escaped from Al-Shabaab or had been released by armed forces in various areas of Somalia.

Humanitarian response

9. Humanitarian partners have continued to provide life-saving assistance alongside livelihood support. From September to December 2018, a monthly average of 2 million beneficiaries were reached with the provision of access to food assistance and safety net support. During the first half of 2019, resource constraints hindered the delivery of aid, resulting in a monthly average of 1.2 million people receiving assistance with improved access to food assistance and safety net support. In addition, between January and July 2019, over 470,000 people were reached with the provision of access to sustainable safe water services, health services were provided to more than 757,000 people, and 155,000 people benefited from shelter and support with non-food items. Over the same period, the Nutrition Cluster treated 141,216 new cases of severe acute malnutrition and provided treatment for moderate acute malnutrition to 212,218 children under 5 years of age and 62,910 pregnant and breastfeeding women. While outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea have largely remained under control, with the exception of localized cases, there has been a sharp increase in other acute diarrhoeas, with the number of other acute diarrhoea cases in 2019 nearly double those recorded in 2018. Furthermore, there has been a significant rise in malaria cases when compared with the same period in 2018.

10. The deterioration in the humanitarian situation unfolded at a time when the Somalia aid operation continues to be underfunded, forcing aid agencies to limit or reduce relief efforts. For example, the Food Security Cluster is reaching 1.9 million people out of the monthly target of reaching around 2.3 million people with assistance. The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, which seeks $1.08 billion to deliver aid and protection to 4.2 million people, was 45 per cent funded ($508 million) as at 28 August 2019. Some clusters, such as protection, water, sanitation and hygiene and health, have been critically underfunded, having received less than 20 per cent of the funding requested. Compared with 2018, when climatic conditions were better, the response in 2019 is notably reduced across most clusters. For example, in May 2019, 1.2 million people were reached with activities aimed at improving access to food and safety nets, compared to 1.9 million people reached in May 2018, representing a 36 per cent reduction in the delivery of such assistance. Similarly, most clusters report that partners have been unable to provide enough assistance and services in areas affected by displacement, where beneficiaries are among the most vulnerable and have acute needs. Only 25 per cent of the target for family tracing and reunification was reached between January and May 2019. Gaps are also significant in water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in health facilities and schools, with only eight institutions reached with a full water, sanitation and hygiene package to date out of 150 institutions targeted in 2019.

11. Working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, aid agencies launched a drought impact response plan in which $686 million is requested to boost the response in the last seven months of 2019 and to provide critical life-saving assistance to 4.5 million Somalis. Since the end of May, some $253 million in additional resources has been received for the Somalia response. Among other things, the additional resources have enabled aid agencies to reach more than 1.8 million people with food assistance since June 2019. As a result of such response efforts, humanitarian partners were able to prevent 1 million people from sliding into emergency and crisis levels of food insecurity.

12. Aid agencies are ready to scale up the response, drawing on recent positive lessons learned, to ensure that response efforts prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe that could jeopardize gains made in recent years. Mechanisms are in place for rapid scale-up and sustained response. Such mechanisms include significant cash programming, expanded partnerships with already-vetted local implementing partners and improved engagement with authorities and affected populations. As part of the famine prevention efforts of 2017, humanitarian partners established Drought Operations Coordination Centres to improve multisectoral coordination and information-sharing and facilitate joint planning. In 2018, because of the positive impact that the Centres had on famine prevention efforts and in recognition that such coordination platforms could facilitate the response to all forms of disaster, the Centres were reconceptualized as Disaster Operations Coordination Centres. The re-establishment of the Centres will enable the initial increase in response close to the areas of origin in the hardest hit regions.

13. While aid agencies continue to do all they can to alleviate suffering and save lives, it is critical that everyone, including the Federal Government of Somalia, federal member states, the international donor community and humanitarian partners, rally behind the scaling up of the response in the worst-affected areas. Coordination on resource mobilization, prioritization of needs and response is critical for the effective delivery of life-saving assistance, including efforts to expand access to areas outside urban centres and to address bureaucratic challenges that slow down and significantly increase the costs associated with humanitarian efforts.