New York, NY, July 19, 2021 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to the Biden Administration’s decision to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia, protecting the approximately 500 TPS holders that arrived since 1991 when Somalia was first designated. The IRC welcomes the decision by the U.S. government to extend protection for Somalis located in the US but renews the call for the Biden Administration to establish a permanent, sustainable pathway to safety in the United States.
“Somalia has suffered decades of conflict, disaster, persistent drought, and food insecurity - all of which continue to affect vulnerable populations in Somalia and reduce humanitarian access, resulting in high levels of displacement that continues to rise," said Richard Crothers, Somalia Country Director at the International Rescue Committee. "The situation remains fragile to this day as this year’s severe drought and subsequent flooding continue to exacerbate an already precarious situation.”
The IRC has been on the ground in Somalia since 1981 and currently provides humanitarian aid to 280,000 people per year. Since 2017, the IRC has been scaling up its emergency response measures across multiple fronts. More than 5.9 million people, almost half of the population in Somalia, are in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 2.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been displaced by armed conflict and violence, insecurity and/or drought/floods. Acute malnutrition rates are high, especially amongst children. Food insecurity continues to rise due to persistent and alternating drought and flooding conditions and the worst desert locust outbreak in over 25 years.
Despite rising needs, the UN Humanitarian Response Plan has received its lowest funding in six years. With only a quarter of funding received so far, the UN is warning that humanitarian aid and services are already starting to scale down or stop altogether and millions are at risk of losing access to basic health services, water and sanitation, and other life-saving services. The U.S. must uphold its tradition of leadership in supporting those in need of humanitarian assistance, including through increased funding for the humanitarian response in Somalia, and protecting those fleeing persecution and violence, and Congress must step in to legislate a pathway to permanent status so that TPS holders are not left in uncertainty.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.