Corruption and mismanagement of funds remain the biggest setback in meeting emergency efforts in Somalia humanitarian efforts as the United Nations announced it will require US$ 1.09 billion to provide life-saving assistance to Somalis this year.
UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator Adam Abdelmoula has been quoted saying the world body expects humanitarian needs to grow during 2021 saying “Our support in ensuring availability and access to basic services such as food, shelter and health services is therefore vital.”
“Multiple crises including erratic climate shocks, protracted conflict, disease outbreaks and a massive desert locust infestation have driven millions of children, women and men in Somalia to the brink of survival,” said Abdelmoula.
But inside Somalia, there is growing discontent in how funds for humanitarian assistance are being handled by the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), the body charged to handle rescue and emergency efforts in the country.
SRCS is being accused of mismanagement of funds, non-compliance with procurement procedures, and lack of staff training, poor recruitment policies and failure to take anti-corruption measures within its ranks.
As a result, funds meant for humanitarian aid has been channelled into personal use by individuals within the organization undermining the work of an organisation which was set up in 1963 with a mission to offer a lifeline to the poor, provide food, shelter, health and other basic services to the needy.
With the growing number of people in need of humanitarian aid at the time when constant attacks are carried out by Al-Shabaab and towns like Hudur cut off from food supplies, SRCS has come short in meeting its obligations under its charters.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the locust invasion have made matters worse for the organization which faces a lot of pressure in disbursing aid assistance rapidly all over the country.
The International Red Crescent is now being urged to institute investigations into the maladministration within its management before the situation gets out of hand.
Hassan Abdi Sheikh who says he has previously worked closely with SCRS claims there is nepotism and clannism in staff appointments while financial aid to help in humanitarian matters is diverted into personal use.
Mr Sheikh says,” if things are not corrected in time, we will face a serious humanitarian crisis. Somalia is constantly in need for humanitarian aid, but we are losing trust in the leadership of SCRS because they are not covering desired cases “
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently said it is deeply concerned about the impact the coronavirus could have on communities (in Somalia) who have been weakened by violence and conflict.
It has been reported that communities are now experiencing widespread displacement, severe malnutrition and outbreaks of diseases.
“Violence continues. Climate shocks continue. We will have to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Somalia, with the additional threat that COVID-19 brings,” said Juerg Eglin, ICRC’s head of delegation for Somalia.
But Sheikh says ICRC ought to do more and also look into operational issues within SCRS. There is a deep concern about SCRS management and how the aid provisions are handled and poor coordination of its work.
SRCS President, Mr Yusuf Hassan Mohamed says the organization continues to serve all Somalis.
SCRS receives aid from several movement members including the Norwegian Red Cross has rehabilitated three health centres in Hargeisa, Galkacyo and Mogadishu.
It has also been providing monetary and technical support to them way back before the civil war.
The German Red Cross also supports Somaliland and Puntland with water and sanitation programmes, and they also run youth volunteer training programmes.
It is also relevant to acknowledge that the Swedish Red Cross assists in mother and child health-care centres in Bosaso and Berbera, and they help with mobile clinics in the two regions.
Their support comes in the payment of staff salaries and training of office clerks and accountants.
The Qatari Red Crescent works in Somalia too and it has been supporting clinics located in Yogori (Sool region) and Erigavo (Sanaag region).
There are other organisations like the Iranian Red Crescent and the Finnish Red Cross who are providing assistance in the country.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is global and it has been helping Somalia over the years and its work is appreciated by the Somali public, but it needs to look into these allegations and address it promptly because SRCS has been accused of mismanaging the resources donated by ICRC.
Meanwhile, Humanitarian Affairs Minister Khadija Diriye said donor support should be focused on building resilience and ensuring stability noting that lifesaving assistance alone was not sufficient.
“We, therefore, call on donors to also prioritise programmes that tackle structural and chronic development challenges in Somalia including but not limited to the protection of women and girls,” the Minister said.
“We are committed to work with all partners to make a lasting impact for the most vulnerable individuals and communities across the country.”