The people of Somalia have been plagued by the violence and brutality of conflict for three decades now. It is the crisis that arches over all the others and it is conflict that has weakened the health system to the level that it is at today. Indeed, it has weakened the state to such an extent that huge portions of the country are not under government control.
This means that government and humanitarian response to crises such as droughts, locusts or Covid-19 will never reach much of the population – and it makes gaining access to other regions both difficult and dangerous, as Abdi Rashid Haji-Nur explains: “Operationally, it is difficult for national and international humanitarian agencies to deliver services to people in the different parts of the country. As long as there is absence of efforts to contain and to deescalate those tensions and conflicts, we will be having challenges in terms of having access.”
Making matters worse is the potential that other crises have to exacerbate tensions within the country. “The effects of the pandemic, or the locust infestation, or the effects of climate change like flooding or drought… You name it, one after the other, they’re all enough to intensify conflicts over resources and power within the country,” says Abdi. Put simply, it is a vicious cycle of crisis and violence within Somalia. Conflict complicates efforts to adequately respond to Covid-19, swarms of locusts, or climate crises, and in turn, each of those crises can exacerbate conflict.