Media release

UK for UNHCR appeals for urgent funds as 2.6 million refugees at risk of severe hunger in ‘forgotten crisis’ across the Horn of Africa



UK for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner in the UK, is calling for urgent support for displaced people facing the compounded impacts of prolonged drought and conflict across the Horn of Africa.

Amidst the extreme weather events of this summer, from wildfires across Europe and Canada, to ice melting in polar regions, the charity is asking the British public not to forget those across the Horn of Africa who are living through the worst drought in four decades.

Owing to the drought, conflict and escalating global food prices, hunger in the region is now reaching unimaginable proportions as 2.6 million refugees and internally displaced people face severe food and water shortages.

For vulnerable displaced people, this food crisis is also a protection crisis. For example, women face increased exposure to sexual and gender-based violence, while children suffer from rising cases of violence, exploitation, abuse, school drop-out and child marriage as many families rely on children to secure their survival.

Nuriya, 39, a refugee from Baidoa, Somalia fled her homeland in 2011 due to insecurity and prolonged drought. She now lives in Kobe camp, Ethiopia, with her own children and three nephews, whom she also cares for.

Nuriya said: “When I came to Ethiopia, I felt peace security wise and was relieved.

“Since COVID-19 we continue to have challenges; prolonged drought, food cuts and a lack of rain … Life has become difficult.

“The children will keep asking ‘Mother are you not cooking for us?’ If the situation deteriorates, they will be malnourished and admitted to a malnutrition clinic.”

UNHCR and its partners are working to deliver lifesaving programmes to refugees and internally displaced people, such as cash assistance, protection services, health and nutrition programmes, water and sanitation support, shelter and education.

Nuriya received cash assistance from UNHCR, which she used to feed her family: “The cash helped me to buy sugar and milk and I shared the little I bought with eight neighbour families who are vulnerable and did not receive cash. I was in dire need of the money, so I decided to buy rice, milk and sugar.”

Aid like this is a vital lifeline for vulnerable families, providing them with the means to buy food and essential items they urgently need. However, last year UNHCR received less than half of the required financial resources to respond to the drought, meaning that their assistance can only reach a fraction of the needs of most vulnerable refugee families.

Without further funding, UNHCR may be forced to suspend, scale back or even shut down programmes, leaving refugees in the wider region with uncertain access to food assistance.

Emma Cherniavsky, Chief Executive Officer at UK for UNHCR, said:

“Displaced communities in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia face compounding crises of conflict and climate change, coupled with huge inflation in the costs of food and other essentials. Addressing this food crisis goes beyond providing nutrition; it’s about safeguarding lives and protecting vulnerable displaced women and children, who are bearing the brunt of this disaster.

“Unfortunately, funding shortages will mean cuts to food assistance programs, precisely when people need it the most. That’s why we’re asking people not to forget refugees living in the Horn of Africa.”

Drought, climate change, conflicts and reduced funding globally have all contributed to food insecurity across the region. Climate change is a known ‘risk multiplier’ for other drivers of displacement, often triggering a domino effect of disaster upon disaster, exacerbating existing tensions and adding to the potential for conflicts.

UNHCR is committed to staying and delivering for refugees in the region, but more funds are desperately needed to help deliver aid, such as critical cash assistance, to thousands of households in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

To find out more about UNHCR’s work in the region or donate, visit


For more information:

Note to editors

A video of Nuriya’s story is available for download on request.

In the last two years, over 110,000 Somalis have crossed the border into Kenya. 12 Dadaab Camp, in Eastern Kenya close to the Somali border is now home to over 320,000 refugees, with more arriving each day. While close to 100,000 Somalis have fled across the border to Ethiopia in the last months. For the latest updates, visit

For additional case studies or more information, please contact:

Aisha Musad, [email protected]

About UK for UNHCR

UK for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner for the UK. We build solidarity, create partnerships and raise funds across the UK to help deliver global humanitarian relief for refugees through UNHCR’s work.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. It delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, helps safeguard fundamental human rights, and develops solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. UNHCR also works to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

UK for UNHCR is a registered charity in England and Wales (registered charity number 1183415).

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