Situation in Puntland and Somaliland still dire, says incoming humanitarian coordinator

The newly appointed Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, has just completed his first official visit to Puntland and Somaliland. This was his first field visit since arriving in Mogadishu last month.

“I am concerned about the increased influx of returnees and Yemeni refugees, which adds to the distress of already fragile social structures in the arrival areas”, de Clercq said. He stressed that addressing their needs will require a concerted and rapid response by international actors and national and local authorities, in order to avert a humanitarian crisis. “I am however encouraged by the positive spirit of cooperation on the ground between humanitarian organizations and the relevant authorities, and, so far, the mechanisms put in place appear to work well”, he concluded.

More than 28,000 people have arrived in Somalia since April, fleeing the conflict in Yemen, including returning Somalis as well as Yemeni refugees. Mr de Clercq visited reception centres in the coastal cities of Berbera and Bosasso, where he saw the newly arrived being registered, provided with food as well as mattresses and blankets, and medical care.

At the moment, an estimated 220,000 people are internally displaced in Puntland and Somaliland, with serious needs, including food, water and shelter. While their conditions are under control due to a relatively good humanitarian response, limited resources, environmental factors and insecurity continue to pose significant challenges.

More than 60 humanitarian organizations currently work in Puntland and Somaliland where hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people remain at the mercy of natural phenomena ranging from floods to droughts.

The Humanitarian Coordinator discussed the necessary humanitarian response and preparedness measures with local authorities, as well as with national and international humanitarian workers. He emphasized the need for long-term durable solutions to strengthen cooperation and coordination with local authorities and organizations to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.