The UN Refugee Agency on Tuesday said severe drought had displaced over 135,000 people in Somalia since November 2016 as the number keeps on growing.
According to data compiled by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council and community-based organisations, swift and substantial action and adequate funding were becoming urgently needed to avoid famine and a repeat of 2011.
The data also added that in 2011, some 250,000 people died, over half of them aged under five years.
It said that there had been reports of deaths and illness, although these were not widespread.
“On Sunday, we received reports of 38 deaths due to drought-linked reasons in the Bakool region of South-Central Somalia,” UNHCR said in a statement.
According to the authorities in Puntland, over 20,000 families have moved to the Bari region while 1,638 others are in need of emergency assistance in the northern town of Galkayo.
According to the report, people are leaving their homes because of the drought, rising food prices, dry weather forecasts and ongoing insecurity, making them head for urban areas.
“This includes Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa.
“The government is seeking to have aid provided to people in their districts in order to avoid people making long a dangerous trip on foot in search of help,” UNHCR said.
Through an inter-agency response, UNHCR and partners are working to mitigate against deterioration into famine including tackling rising malnutrition, limiting displacement, and containing disease outbreaks and enhancing protection.
“This includes through the provision of emergency shelter and aid items to thousands of people and through strengthened protection monitoring,” UNHCR said.
Drought is also pushing some to flee the country, as at the start of the year, over 3,770 Somali new arrivals have been recorded at Melkadida in Ethiopia, and acute malnutrition has been reported in around 75 per cent of arriving child refugees.
“No substantial movement into Kenya has been reported so far,” it said.
Report says the drought comes as UNHCR continues its voluntary repatriation program for Somali refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab complex, which has brought home 49,985 people since December 2014.