MOGADISHU, March 20 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 1.7 million people are in critical need of humanitarian assistance in self-declared semi-autonomous region of Somaliland with poor rains and prolonged dry spells since 2016 deepening the crisis, a global charity warned on Wednesday.
Oxfam International said communal water resources are drying up at an alarming rate, forcing communities to truck in water that they can't afford.
"The warning signs are all negative. Famine was averted in 2016 because of a rapid, large-scale response. Resources and action must again be forthcoming, prioritized for women and children, who are the most vulnerable," Amjad Ali, Oxfam's country director in Somalia and Somaliland said in a statement.
The charity warned that the 1.7 million figure increased by hundreds of thousands in recent months.
According to the charity, an estimated 4.9 million people across Somaliland and Somalia are food insecure and 2.6 million internally displaced, of a population estimated at 14-15 million.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 6.4 percent funded, leaving a gaping hole, Oxfam said and warned that resources are urgently needed to avert catastrophe.
The charity said below average rainfall in late 2018 provided scant relief, as most communities remain unable to rebuild livestock herds to utilize the very limited new pasture.
It said vulnerabilities were further exacerbated by the devastation of cyclone Sagar in mid-2018 that killed an estimated 80 percent of livestock in affected areas and decimated the few agricultural crops Somaliland grows with coastal areas, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag being the regions hardest hit.
Ali said Oxfam has been closely monitoring the unfolding situation through an existing response in these regions, deciding it is now time to raise the alarm.
"The decision to declare an emerging crisis is not taken lightly, as we are wary of donor fatigue, but the situation is bleak. As existing humanitarian support was scheduled to scale down, we are seeing a humanitarian cliff before our eyes. We must not walk blindly over the edge," said Ali.