Forced displacement within Somalia and across its borders shows no signs of easing, as forced evictions, drought, conflict and lack of livelihoods have forced over 130,000 people from their homes since the start of the year. The vast majority – some 107,000 – are internally displaced in Somalia; a total of 23,000 newly arrived Somali refugees have registered in Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia during the first eight months of the year.
Insecurity was the main cause of internal displacement, with some 38,000 people fleeing their homes because of military conflict. It is estimated that in the last eight month, approximately 7,000 people have fled the ongoing military offensive in South Central Somalia. While displacement is likely to be temporary, with people returning to their homes once it is safe to do so, many still require assistance when displaced. These efforts are however hampered by limited access to towns affected by military activity, with expensive airlifts often the only way to get supplies to people in need.
The forced evictions of IDPs from both private and government owned land and buildings is estimated to have uprooted almost 33,000 people. Some 15,600 were affected in the port city of Kismayo earlier this year and some 18,300 people were evicted in the capital Mogadishu in recent weeks alone. UNHCR is engaged in dialogue with its counterparts in the Somali authorities to ensure that such evictions do not violate basic human rights. UNHCR distributed basic relief items to 3,000 displaced families in Kismayo in recent weeks, but additional distributions are required. Many people are living in sites lacking basic services in shelters made of sticks, grass and empty cardboard boxes and incidents of gender based violence (GBV) and rape of young girls and women by militias operating outside the settlements have been reported.
In 2014, Yemen has received 11,000 new arrivals by boat across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, practically matching the figures recorded for the whole of 2013. Most of the new arrivals come from the six regions in South Central Somalia mostly affected by drought, food insecurity and poverty. Almost 9,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya while Ethiopia has registered more than 3,000 Somali refugees arriving this year. The total number of Somali refugees in the region stands at 957,000.
This continued displacement comes at a time when the internally displaced are bearing the brunt of the current food insecurity crisis in the country. IDPs spend proportionately more – up to 75% – of their available income on food compared to Somalis in rural and urban communities.
According to the recent assessment by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), IDPs have the highest rates of severe acute malnutrition while malnutrition rates are critical in in seven of the 13 IDP sites surveyed. The under-five death rate among Mogadishu IDPs is six times the average. While UNHCR and other agencies are scaling up response, our Somalia operation requires more than USD 40 million, and remains underfunded at 38 per cent.