A severe drought in the Horn of Africa has added considerable pressure to an already deteriorating situation in Somalia. The United Nations recently declared that large areas of Somalia are in the grip of a major famine. Approximately 3.7 million people—nearly half the population—now face a significant humanitarian crisis. Beyond the current crisis, however, most of the issues the country faces are not new. The conditions in Somalia are an example of the deadly effects of severe and prolonged drought, ballooning food and water prices, poor governance and ongoing conflict. These critical factors make the development of an appropriate and effective international response challenging.
On August 1, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion on the humanitarian and political implications of the famine in Somalia and possible responses to the crisis. Panelists, including Allan Jury from the World Food Program, Reuben Brigety from the U.S. Department of State, Semhar Araia from Oxfam International, Mark Bartolini from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Vincent Cochetel from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), addressed a number of critical topics, including logistical challenges in delivering food to areas controlled by insurgents, the impact of the famine throughout the region, and measures that can be taken to avoid similar crises in the future.
Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.