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News: ONLF calls for urgent action on establishment of “Emergency Drought Task Force” in Somali region

A family feed their cows straw plucked from the roof of their home in Adadle in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

Addis Ababa: –  The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a leading opposition party in Ethiopia’s Somali regional state, says urgent action by federal and state governments is needed to establish “an emergency drought task force” to mitigate drought in the Somali region and neighboring communities.

In a statement the party issued on 06 October, it said that the extended drought that is currently ongoing in the region has the “potential to result in famine putting lives and livelihoods of the people at risk.”

Climate change-induced drought, which is further exacerbated by “the lack of appropriate preparation and intervention from both state and federal governments” has now become “the single largest threat” to Somali people, ONLF further said. “We are particularly concerned about our displaced population from the rural areas to ill-equipped urban centers and war-displaced people in places like Sitti and Qolaji.”

According to a UN report released in May this year, the humanitarian situation in Somali region “has deteriorated in 10 zones across the region following three consecutive below average rainy seasons in 2020 and 2021, affecting an estimated 3.5 million people (55% of the region’s population).” Quoting the Regional Government’s Drought Response Plan, the report said that “over 3.1 million people are facing food shortages due to the ongoing drought.” Furthermore, more than one million livestock are believed to have died in drought-affected parts of the region.

As far back as February this year, the World Food Program (WFP) warned that more than 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia face severe hunger as the driest conditions in decades spread a devastating drought across the Horn of Africa.

The statement by the ONLF corroborates this and adds that the drought is “widespread and is strongly felt in 10 zones of the 11 zones in the Somali State and in both neighboring communities in Somalia and Southeast Oromia.”

The party urged regional and federal authorities, civil societies, opposition groups and aid agencies to not only collaborate on drought response but to mobilize the population to partake in drought mitigation efforts in order to avoid famine. 

It expressed preparedness to mobilize its members and supporters in this efforts and to collaborate directly with aid agencies requiring assistance to distribute aid to the people.

It has also called upon the Somali communities in the Diaspora to start early preparing for the worst so that they can provide timely aid when it is needed. AS

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