A large percentage of Djibouti’s population could face food shortages due to drought, rising prices, declining earnings, and high levels of livestock deaths, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net). Some 130,000, including 50,000 in Djibouti’s capital, require emergency food assistance, the network found. FEWS Net also noted that the recent border conflict with Eritrea could aggravate the situation. “Approximately 1,000 people have been displaced in and around the conflict zone, and as many as 22,000 could be displaced, should the violence worsen,” it stated in an alert.
Tension between the two neighbors flared up when Eritrean troops attacked the northern territories of Doumeira and Ras Doumeira in early June. Several casualties were reported before fighting ceased on June 12. “The situation has remained calm, but both countries are sending additional troops to the area, threatening renewed violence,” the network warned. “The border conflict could have important food security implications for Djibouti and the greater East Africa region.”
Djibouti’s pastoral communities, which rely on Eritrean markets for food, are already affected and reportedly fleeing to Khorangar, Obock City, or further inland. A semi-desert state that experiences frequent droughts and imports all its staple foods, Djibouti is classified by the UN as both a least developed and a low-income, food-deficit country. (IRIN, June 26)