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UNHCR appeals for 137 mln USD to help refugees in Horn of Africa

Refugees need much more support in these times of COVID-19

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR on Tuesday appealed for 137 million U.S. dollars to help 3.3 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Horn of Africa due to the forecast sixth failed rainy season which lasts between March and May.

The UNHCR said the funds will be used to provide life-saving aid to refugees and IDPs who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and assistance, as well as affected local host communities.

“We continue to call for more global solidarity and support to protect, assist and empower drought-affected communities and save millions of lives,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

According to the UN agency, as the Horn of Africa enters its sixth consecutive rainy season with no rain, displacement continues to climb as millions from Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya struggle to survive amid scarce water sources, hunger, insecurity and conflict.

It said the dangerous confluence of climate and conflict in the region is worsening an already dire humanitarian situation.

The UNHCR said while famine has so far been averted in Somalia, mostly due to a stepped-up humanitarian response, people continue to battle life-threatening food and water shortages resulting from massive losses of harvests, livestock and income. It said local commodity prices in Somalia also remain at an all-time high, out of reach for many.

According to the UNHCR data, more than 1.7 million people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia and Somalia due to the drought, most of them last year.

Over 180,000 refugees from Somalia and South Sudan also crossed into drought-affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia, it said.

“In recent weeks, nearly 100,000 people have arrived in Doolo, a remote area in Ethiopia’s Somali region itself hard hit by the drought, fleeing conflict in the Las Anod area within Somalia,” the UNHCR said.

It said since the start of the year, over 287,000 people have been internally displaced due to conflict and drought in Somalia alone.

Due to space constraints in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, the UNHCR said, arriving refugees seeking relief from this climate catastrophe have been forced to reside along the outskirts of the camps where assistance is limited, while efforts are underway to establish a new settlement at the site of a previously closed camp.

The UNHCR warned that humanitarian needs are also expected to rise in 2023 as drought and insecurity persist.

The Horn of African region could experience depressed rains in the critical March to May season, dashing hopes of a respite from the escalating hunger crisis, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc, said on Feb. 22 in its latest weather forecast report.

The March-May rainy season accounts for up to 60 percent of total annual rainfall in equatorial parts of the region.

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