The European Union has announced €105.5 million in aid to Horn of Africa nations facing not just the coronavirus pandemic but also ongoing conflict, severe flooding and a months-long locust infestation that has destroyed crops and threatened food security.
Somalia and Ethiopia will share €90 million nearly equally, while Kenya will receive €15 million and Djibouti will see €500,000. The money is meant to support health care facilities with controlling the epidemic a top priority, as well as provide assistance to farmers to help maintain food production during the crisis.
The funds also are meant to meet the basic needs of refugees and internally displaced people.
Somalia, which has seen 56 fatalities among its 1,421 confirmed coronavirus cases, now faces a potential cholera outbreak following recent floods. Aid agencies say the flooding along the Shabelle River has forced 412,000 people from their homes, adding to the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other diseases.
World Bank also has approved US$137.5 million for Somalia to help the nation address its multiple crises.
“The flood has occurred at a time when Somalia is facing the challenge of limiting community transmission from COVD-19 and its fragile health system is struggling to cope with the pace in which the outbreak is spreading,” said WHO. “The country is also facing one of the worst desert locust infestations in 25 years with new swarms reported in all states across the country.”
That’s true for Kenya too, which has seen its flooding death toll reach 237 since the rains began in April and continues to battle locust infestation.
“The EU remains committed to help address humanitarian needs in countries in the Horn of Africa, all the more so in these challenging times,” said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič. “EU aid will support communities at risk of hunger and strengthen measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. A global pandemic requires a global response.”
Image: FAO/ Sven Torfinn file