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Ireland steps up its humanitarian response to looming famine in Somalia

Budget/funding, Emergencies, Hunger, News/feature, Somalia, 2017
Photo ​Credit: UNHRD

Ministers Flanagan and McHugh announced that Ireland has today (Wednesday) dispatched over 100 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies to Somalia.


Ireland steps up its humanitarian response to looming famine in Somalia


- Airlift of 100 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies dispatched to Somalia


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D., announced that Ireland has today (Wednesday) dispatched over 100 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies to Somalia. 

Announcing the airlift, Minister Flanagan said:

“I am deeply concerned that over 6 million people in Somalia are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.  Almost 3 million people are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity and there is a very real and significant risk that the situation will further deteriorate to famine, causing starvation and death.  This is simply unacceptable in our world of plenty.

“In Somalia today there are worrying similarities to the conditions that led to the worst famine of the 21st century when, in 2011, three-quarters of a million Somali people faced famine and more than a quarter million lives were lost.  A massive and urgent scale up of assistance by the international community is required to avoid a similar catastrophe this year. Acting now will save lives.

“Over 400,000 people have been displaced in the country over the last six month because of prolonged drought, loss of livelihoods and acute hunger. They are congregating in informal settlements with nothing, arriving with only what they can carry. Most have walked long distances to reach these camps in hope that they will receive some assistance. Ireland’s donation of emergency supplies that we are announcing today will help to meet the immediate needs of up to 4,000 displaced families.”  

“Today Ireland will dispatch an airlift, worth over €600,000, from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai, where Irish Aid pre-positions relief supplies for use in emergencies and humanitarian crises under Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative. 

“The relief supplies, including blankets, jerry cans, cooking sets, family hygiene kits, tarpaulins and solar lamps, will arrive in two loads into Mogadishu today (Wednesday) and Friday, and will be distributed by Concern Worldwide to 4,000 vulnerable families displaced by drought and acute hunger to informal settlements located outside of Mogadishu and Baidoa, and in the Afgoyee Corridor, north-west of Mogadishu.

“Last month, Ireland also announced new funding of €11 million to humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa region, €3 million of which was contributed to the UN-managed Somalia Humanitarian Fund to help our partners to provide life-saving assistance to those most in need and at risk of famine in the country.”

Minister McHugh added:

“Severe drought conditions continue in many parts of Somalia following poor and erratic rains over the last two years.  In the worst affected areas, poor rainfall has destroyed crops and killed livestock, and communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food, to survive.

“If the forthcoming rainy season from April to June is as poor as is currently forecast, this hunger crisis will worsen and further displacement will occur. The situation for children is especially grave with over 360,000 Somali children under the age of five now acutely malnourished.

“Urgent action is required to provide emergency shelter and basic services for families that have been forced to move.  Ireland is responding quickly through one of our trusted NGO partners.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”



Press Office

12 April 2017


Notes to the Editor:


  • Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see www.irishaid.ie
  • Somalia has been gripped by drought and racked by conflict for over twenty years.  The country is currently ranked as the most fragile state in the world. Al Shabaab’s insurgency, coupled with inter-clan fighting and a severe prolonged drought has caused large-scale displacement, widespread food insecurity and rising acute malnutrition rates.
  • 6.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, representing more than half of the population. Over 2 million Somalis are displaced, some for nearly two decades. This includes 1.1 million internally displaced and it is projected that this number will increase to 3 million by June 2017. There are now over 900,000 Somali refugees in neighbouring countries, half of whom are children. 
  • The UN’s 2017 inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia is now appealing for USD$863.5 million to reach 3.9 million people in greatest need this year.  It is currently only 37% funded.
  • Ireland has provided €31 million in humanitarian assistance to our UN and NGO partners in Somalia since 2012 to date. So far in 2017, €3.28 million in humanitarian assistance has been provided, and €5.93 million was provided in 2016.
  • Ireland’s humanitarian assistance has been focused on saving lives and alleviating the suffering of the Somali people including through emergency food and livelihoods assistance, treating acute malnutrition, providing shelter and protection, and providing emergency services in health care, water & sanitation and education.
  • Over half of Ireland’s €31 million in funding to the Somalia crisis since 2012 has been directed to the Somalia Humanitarian Fund.  Almost €19 million was provided by Ireland to this Fund since 2012.  The Fund pools donor contributions and allocates funding through an in-country consultative process to a broad range of partners, including UN organisations and national and international NGOs, to meet critical humanitarian needs in the country. 
  • Earlier this year, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated USD$18 million to UN organisations’ programmes in Somalia, focusing on the needs of 500,000 people experiencing severe drought conditions in Puntland, Somaliland and South Central Somalia through the provision of nutrition services, food assistance, shelter, and water and hygiene services. Ireland is a long-standing supporter of the CERF, and is among the top eight contributors. We contributed €13 million to CERF in 2017 and €12.75 million in 2016.
  • As part of Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, Irish Aid pre-positions emergency and humanitarian relief items around the world.  We stockpile in UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD) which are strategically located near disaster and crisis prone areas - in Accra (Ghana), Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (UAE), Panama City (Panama) and Subang (Malaysia).
  • Last year Irish Aid airlifted 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies to families affected by drought and flooding in Ethiopia, to families affected by conflict, violence and displacement in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Iraq, Niger and Nigeria, and, most recently, to families affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. This airlift into Somalia is Ireland’s first of 2017.