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Appeal for urgent intervention before COVID-19 overwhelms Somalia

Somalia faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as a result of the fall out from the COVID-19 pandemic. We could be looking at the loss of all progress made in the rebuilding of our nation since the civil war.

The ban on international and domestic flights coupled with the dramatic reduction of imports at our major ports has led to the loss of revenue that was critical to the supplementation of our federal and member state budgets.

The informal banking sector locally known as the Hawala is on the verge of collapse due to rapidly diminishing international remittances from our diaspora who are themselves facing severe economic uncertainty due to the pandemic. This sector is a major source of foreign currency for the majority of our nationals. The above coupled with the recent exposure of a nationwide forex Ponzi scheme that supposedly led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars has exacerbated our cash flow crisis.

With the reduction of imports, Somalia will soon be facing a dramatic shortage of food as local farmers will be unable to meet the demands of a nation that is a net importer of food. This will most likely lead to a mass exodus to urban areas and markedly increase the number of IDP’s that currently stands at 2.6 million as per the latest report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Gu rains have started with moderate to heavy showers being experienced in some parts of the country which is good news for supporting planting activities and maintenance of the country’s rangelands. However, there is concern that this could enable fresh breeding and further spread of the desert locust swarms that have been destroying pasture and food crops in most of Eastern Africa.

The Federal government as well as the Federal member states (FMS), who are the main employers in the country, will be unable to pay for services and salaries without the introduction of an economic stimulus package by the donors. Such a scenario has the potential of causing chaos when coupled with an already existing atmosphere of fear and suspicion due to the pandemic.

Somalia has 2 healthcare workers per 100,000 people and a healthcare infrastructure that would be devastated if faced with the numbers of patients being reported in various countries worldwide. As things stand, we have 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. This number could be much higher, but we simply have no way of knowing as we lack the capacity to implement mass testing of our populace. We are grateful for the generous donation of testing kits and protective equipment from Jack Ma of the Ali Baba group, however, that is not enough to prevent the number of cases from snowballing as we have seen in many countries. We are faced with the horrifying scenario of thousands of people dying in their homes and at hospitals all over the country due to a lack of ICU facilities for those that develop severe pneumonia associated with the infection. Our best hope remains in reducing the number of cases by applying as many preventative measures as we possibly can.

We appeal for assistance in the form of medical personnel, supplies and equipment, foodstuff and financial packages from the international community in our bid to save our country from this pandemic and its devastating consequences.

It is imperative that Somali’s of all walks of life and political affiliations put aside their differences in these trying times. This disease does not target people based on their clan, political affiliations, or their religious ideology. We must come together as one nation and tackle this crisis with the singular goal of overcoming this pandemic.


This article was originally published on www.wardheernews.com

About Senator Mahdi Dahir

Mahdi Dahir Sheikh Nur is one of the members of the federal parliament especially upper house.

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