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Humanitarian Outlook: Horn of Africa (January - June 2018)




This Outlook provides an overview of the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa region— focused on Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia with reference to Eritrea and Djibouti—and its crossborder implications in the Greater Horn of Africa region and beyond, including Yemen. The report covers: drivers of humanitarian need, including conflict and drought; manifestations of humanitarian need, including displacement, protection concerns, food insecurity, malnutrition and disease; and constraints to meeting humanitarian needs, including access impediments and inadequate funding.

The report’s key takeaways are as follows:

  • Consecutive failed rainy seasons have eroded the coping capacities of agro-pastoralist communities in key locations in the Horn of Africa and poor rainfall is expected to continue to drive humanitarian needs over the next six months, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya. A weak La Niña will likely persist until March 2018, which is historically associated with below average rainfall in southern and eastern Ethiopia, central and southern Somalia, and most of Kenya.

  • In addition to climatic shocks—and in some instances compounded or driven by them— conflict, insecurity and political instability remain important drivers of humanitarian need in the region. In Somalia, conflict is expected to remain at the centre of the crisis in the months ahead, while in Ethiopia inter-communal conflict continues in the Oromia and Somali regions. The conflicts in Yemen and South Sudan are causing, and impacting, population movements in the Horn of Africa.

  • The combination of drought, conflict and insecurity have worsened protection concerns, with violations against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence as well as against children, expected to continue in the months ahead.

  • The Horn of Africa is both the host and the source of significant population displacement and mixed migration movements, and this is expected to continue in the first six months of 2018. Over 5.5 million people were displaced across the Horn of Africa by the end of December 2017, including around 4.1 million1 internally displaced and 1.4 million2 living in the region as refugees and asylum seekers. The Horn of Africa remains a major migration transit route including to and from the Arabian Peninsula and to Europe.

  • Food insecurity in the region escalated by 36 per cent in 2017.3 By the end of the year, some 14.6 million people were severely food insecure and over 693,700 severely malnourished children were admitted for treatment.4 The region is expected to remain an epicentre of food insecurity and malnutrition in the first six months of 2018, with displaced people particularly affected.

  • Communicable diseases remain a major a risk, including in cross-border areas. In 2017, more than 131,200 cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and/or cholera were recorded in Ethiopia,
    Somalia and Kenya,5 and nearly 24,500 cases of measles were recorded in Ethiopia and Somalia.6 Regions bordering neighbouring countries— including the Somali region of Ethiopia and Garissa and Wajir in Kenya—were amongst those hardest-hit by AWD/cholera outbreaks. While the number of AWD/cholera cases tapered towards the end of 2017, cases are expected to spike in the coming months.

  • Humanitarian access varies across the region. In Somalia, denial of humanitarian access by nonstate armed actors, insecurity and bureaucratic impediments have impeded the response. Intercommunal conflict in Ethiopia has also impeded humanitarian access although overall access to affected areas remains largely unconstrained. In line with trends recorded in previous years, frontline responders are expected to be the most affected by access constraints in 2018.

  • Humanitarian funding needs exceeded US$3.5 billion for 2017. The international community responded generously to the drought, significantly increasing funding for Ethiopia ($1.14 billion mobilized out of $1.4 billion required) and Somalia ($949.2 billion mobilized out of $1.5 billion required). However, underfunding of refugee operations resulted in ration cuts in some areas, including in Kenya. With needs remaining high, funding levels will need to be sustained—and where feasible increased—for 2018.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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