The region’s unprecedented drought, which as i has reported this week is still worsening after seasonal rains failed once again in many areas, in one of the key reasons for mass migration through Africa to the Mediterranean, said Mohamed Abdi Affey, Special Envoy on the Somali Refugee Situation for the UNHCR refugee agency.
Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population, according to the UNHCR, with many living in drought-affected areas such as Somalia. Driving is driving desperate people across borders
Millions of people in East Africa have been forced to abandon their homes. Some live elsewhere in their own countries, some have crossed borders, but most are living in desperate conditions.
Driving is driving desperate people across borders
“People are becoming destitute as their livestock has been wiped out by the devastating drought,” Mr Affey told i. “Suddenly very rich families who had large flocks of camels, goats, sheep and cows become poor. It’s hard to imagine the pain they go through in this kind of situation.”
“They become desperate and take any chance to move to live in dignity and in safety. Drought is an important factor in displacement.”
Conflict in South Sudan has made the situation worse, while the Somalian government is still fighting the Islamic extremist militants Al Shabaab. More must be done to help them “Thirty per cent of the Somali population are now in refugee camps or are internally displaced,” said Mr Affey.
“People are fleeing for their lives and criminal traffickers take advantage of them. As we have seen, quite a number die before they reach their destination or drown on the high seas on their way to Europe.
“We need global attention. These are situations that could be controlled in the local regions. The world must ensure that there is no mass movement of people seeking sanctuary in Europe.”
Mustafa Ahmed Mohammed, emergency co-ordinator in Somaliland for the charity ActionAid, said the nomadic traditions of Somali culture make it more likely for desperate people to abandon their lands and migrate.
“Tomorrow they will not be here,” he said. “People are too ambitious to stay. If they’ve lost everything they’ll just go.”