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UN seeks $1.6 billion to protect 5.4 million Somalis from drought

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The UN office in Somalia has launched the 2018 humanitarian response plan, which called for 1.6 billion dollars to protect the lives of 5.4 million people.

The Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter de Clercq, said while Somalia, with the international community’s help, averted famine 2017, long-term solutions for drought, conflict and displacement must still be found.

“I am proud that we averted a possible famine 2017. Lasting solutions, however, out of our reach, and much more must be done to eliminate the looming threat of famine in this country,” he said.

He called for tackling humanitarian needs while simultaneously looking at longer-term solutions.

“If we do not continue to save lives and in parallel build resilience, then we have only delayed a famine, not prevented one,” de Clercq warned.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the plan prioritises immediate relief operations in areas with significant numbers of people living in crisis and emergency situations.

It also now includes a strategy to address protection gaps for those most vulnerable, such as the internally displaced, women and children.

The UN official said in 2017, displacement reached unprecedented levels, with food security needs nearly doubling the five-year average.

The number of Somalis on the brink of famine has grown tenfold since this time in 2017 with an estimated 1.2 million children are projected to be malnourished in 2018, 232,000 of whom will face life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.

He said to mitigate future crises, humanitarians are working with development partners and Somali authorities to address the underlying causes of recurring crises, including food insecurity and mass displacement.

“With important progress made on the political and governance fronts, Somalia is on a positive trajectory, despite ongoing crises.

“The country has more effective institutions than it has for decades,” de Clercq said.

He, however, noted that these gains were reversible and must be protected.

“With continued international support, we can break the cycle of recurrent crises that undermine the peace building and State-building process in Somalia,” he said.

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