BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and appealed for food and water because of shortages triggered by a severe drought.
Drought has gripped large parts of the Horn of Africa country this year and the United Nations says children face acute malnutrition.
The crisis is compounded by al Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency that seeks to topple the central government that is backed by African Union peacekeepers and the West.
Al Shabaab militants carry out bombings in the capital Mogadishu and other regions. Militants killed more than 500 people in the capital in an attack last month.
Puntland’s government said 34,000 households across the region are affected by the drought due to the failure of successive rainy seasons.
Puntland “launched a wide-ranging humanitarian appeal to secure food, water and other resources for the affected region,” a government statement said. It said 70 percent of the area faced extreme drought and was unlikely to receive rain for five months.
Militant attacks in Puntland are rare compared to the rest of Somalia mainly because its security forces are relatively regularly paid and receive substantial U.S. assistance.
But this year there has been an upsurge in violence as al Shabaab and a splinter group linked to Islamic State have attacked government troops.
Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan Mahamud; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg