Press Statement by the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on World Humanitarian Day

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On this World Humanitarian Day, I wish to draw attention to the global climate crisis ravaging our planet. Its scale has become too enormous to ignore. We must act collectively and urgently to stave off further destruction.

Somalia is a prime example of how the climate emergency disproportionally impacts the most vulnerable, despite the fact that they contribute to it the least. The country’s cyclical droughts and floods make water either a short supply with drought-like conditions or a destructive force that sweeps away all life in its path and breaks embankments. The effects of climate change also increasingly extend into the social, political and security realm.

In April, the Government, in consultation with the UN, declared a drought in the country after 80 per cent of the nation had experienced drought conditions. Other parts of Somalia were flooded, further driving displacement in a country where one out of every four people has been forced from their home.

Some 5.9 million Somalis urgently need humanitarian support. Despite growing needs, the Humanitarian Response Plan is only funded at 40 per cent. The cost of inaction will be devastating. Without additional support, the fragile gains we have made thus far will be easily unraveled.

We are in a race against time, a race to prioritise and address the needs of the most vulnerable Somalis and to break this vicious cycle of environmental degradation, displacement and loss of livelihoods. This means investment in short, medium and long-term solutions that can resist future climate shocks, use of nature-based solutions and low carbon energy sources, and strengthening resilience and adaptive capabilities of the affected communities. The recently launched Somalia’s National Water Strategy is an important step forward.

I call on everyone to join the #TheHumanRace and ensure the concerns of the most vulnerable Somalis are at the top of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

Today, we also remember humanitarians who lost their lives or became injured in the course of their work. Every day, humanitarian partners in Somalia provide life-saving assistance to those who need it most. Risking everything, they ensure support is delivered in today’s unprecedented times of climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and security challenges.

This year alone, 146 incidents impacting humanitarian operations have been recorded in Somalia. One humanitarian worker was killed, five injured, one abducted and three were detained or temporarily arrested. Targeting humanitarian workers is an egregious violation of international humanitarian law and such attacks must never be tolerated. I implore all parties to do their part to ensure protection of all humanitarian workers as they continue to provide support to the most at-risk communities.

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