The African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) have expressed concerns over the conflict and climate-related crisis in Somalia.
The Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission to AU and UNECA, Jainaba Jagne told journalists during a mission visit to the African Transmission Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), said that in the first quarter of 2023, the AU had been briefed about the double crises.
Jagne is also the Ambassador to Ethiopia and High Commissioner to Kenya, and also represents the sub-committee on Refugees Returning and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP),
According to her, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) sub-committee on refugee returnees and IDPs had a preliminary session during which it was clearly said that Somalia was facing two sets of crises.
The Ambassador said; “Not only do we have the conflict crises but, we have another crisis that has been brought about by climate change, they are suffering a drought”.
She said the subcommittee took it upon itself to fill an assessment and a solidarity mission to the Republic of Somalia.
She further said; “In the same vein, we were also sent to express our sympathies and our solidarity by bringing in one hundred and fifty US Dollars ($150,000) to assist them with the work that they are doing in providing humanitarian services to the citizens.
“We, as part of the humanitarian assessment mission have visited several sectors in Somalia, We visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with the Commissioner for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and the Director General at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
“Subsequent to this, we had consultations with troop-contributing countries representing their embassies here and also met with the Deputy Commissioner for the Somalia Disaster Management Agency, several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and as well as humanitarian partners.
“As part of the outcomes of this visit, we will be reporting to the sub-committee on Returnees Refugees and IDPs about the augmented humanitarian situation that has been brought about by the two sets of crises, the conflict as well as the climate change, and we should hopefully be coming up with a durable solution to the issue at hand here, the humanitarian crises.
“It has also been brought to our attention, whilst we were here, that the drawdown of the ATMIS, will also have an impact on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. Where there has been draw down at the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). We have been informed that the IDPs moved with the FOBs. Unfortunately, as the drawdown continues, we would be having congestion of IDPs at the last drawdown FOB,” she said.
She further said; “In addition to this, our technical expert will be looking at how we can initiate projects and programmes while also trying to operationalize the African Humanitarian Agency, to ensure that we continue to assist our brothers and Sisters of Somalia”.
Responding to questions on the magnitude of the drought in Somalia, the Ambassador estimated that it could run into millions of dollars.
“To put an exact cost to this, I can only estimate for you, but will most certainly be going into the millions and millions of dollars. As I had mentioned, the information I have gathered we would take back to the subcommittee that will then report to the permanent representative committee at the African Union where in turn we would work with our Somali brothers and Sisters to find durable solutions to the problems they are encountering. It will have to be more at a technical and expert level to give further answers as to some of the programmes that would be initiated at the short term, midterm, and long term for this “She said
Meanwhile, the Political Officer, Department of Health, Humanitarian and Social Development, African Union Commission Joseph Maada- Soyei reiterated that the damage cost and financial implication can only be answered by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).
Maada-Soyei said; “For the Humanitarian Division, we actually respond in the short to medium term, if we have durable solutions for disasters which is very technical. Our own expertise lies in providing durable solutions to forced displacements.
“We are quite aware that when disaster happens, it creates an internal displacement within the country. There is only going to be a problem if the disasters happen at the border. At that time, we would have to define the concept, because immediately a displaced person crosses a border, he becomes a refugee.
“But, we actually do not have in concept a climate refugee and that is the time we can actually have a challenge but when it happens within the country, it is the humanitarian aspect to respond in the short term such as providing shelter, movement away from the disaster site while the medium term will have parts of the durable solutions which includes getting the victims back their livelihood and resilience so they can live in the society,” he said.