Puntland, Somalia and Somaliland
More than 135,000 people were displaced by drought in Somalia between November 2016 and February 2017. About 3,800 people were pushed by drought over the Ethiopian border into Melkadida refugee camp between 1 January and 21 February. About 75 per cent of children arriving at the camp had acute malnutrition. Puntland and Somaliland in the north, and central and southern Somalia were the areas that were worst affected (UNHCR, 21 February 2017). At least 47,000 people were displaced by drought between 1 and 23 February mainly from rural to urban or peri-urban areas (UNHCR, 23 February 2017).
Somalia’s 1.1 million IDPs live in precarious and insecure conditions in over-crowded settlements, with little or no basic services. Most rely on aid for shelter, food, health, water, sanitation and protection. “In a fragile context such as Somalia, drought has devastating consequences for vulnerable communities who already suffer under protracted conflict and a lack of basic services. Recovery from the 2011 to 2012 famine which left 260,000 people dead, more than half of them children, has been fragile” (ECHO, February 2017).
The drought comes as UNHCR continues a repatriation programme that has brought home 50,000 Somali refugees from Kenya’s Dadaab complex since December 2014. “UNHCR is informing people in the camps about the drought, but so far this does not appear to have had a major effect on returns” (UNHCR, 21 February 2017.
The drought also affected parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda. This is the third consecutive year of drought in the Horn of Africa. Multiple years of diminished food production has exhausted people’s capacity to cope with another shock. “The greater region suffers from chronic and intensifying conflicts, continued access constraints in some areas, rising refugee numbers and communicable disease outbreaks; and the drought is expected to worsen in the coming months, with low rainfall forecast for March to May - which is the main rainy season” (UNHCR, February 2017).