I am extremely concerned about the impact on civilians of the recent hostilities in Diinsoor, South West State. Over 17,400 people, many of whom are women and children, have been forced to flee their homes in Diinsoor in the last three weeks.
Most of the displaced people, who are also affected by the ongoing drought emergency, arrived in several locations, including Baidoa, Bay region, Baardheera of Gedo region and Banadir region.
Humanitarian actors on the ground report that those affected are in urgent need of humanitarian and protection assistance. Almost 136,000 people are facing emergency (IPC-4) levels of food insecurity in South West State. However, scaling up response is impeded by access and funding challenges.
I wish to remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality in the use of force. I urge them to uphold these obligations including protection of civilians. Parties to the conflict must ensure that humanitarian workers have unfettered access to all people in need of assistance.
The situation is coming at a time when the country is facing the longest sequence of poor rainy seasons since 1981, with some regions experiencing extremely dry conditions, following the failure of the October-December 2021 seasonal rains. About 4.3 million people are affected by the drought, of whom over 554,000 have been displaced in search of food, water and pasture. With the next rainy season not expected until April, Somalia is staring at a potential catastrophe.