UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged donors to ramp up humanitarian support to prevent famine in Somalia where the risk is still looming.
Guterres, who arrived in Somalia on Tuesday in a surprise visit, spoke of the urgent need to “act now to prevent catastrophe” due to the ongoing drought in the country.
“Between now and June, 6.5 million Somalis are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity. So the risk of famine is still looming,” he said in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, at the end of his visit.
According to him, the current situation is once again alarming, adding that climate change is causing chaos in Somalia which has experienced five consecutive poor rainy seasons.
“This is unprecedented. A devastating drought has already resulted in the tragic loss of 43,000 lives in 2022 alone.
“It has led to the displacement of 1.4 million Somalis with women and children making up 80 per cent,” Guterres said.
He said the rising food prices are aggravating hunger and malnutrition with drought pushing the poor and vulnerable communities to the brink of starvation.
“Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed for some 8.3 million Somalis.
“And we must act now to prevent a catastrophe,” said Guterres, who visited Baidoa, southwest of Somalia.
In Baidoa, he spoke to families who have lost their livelihoods to drought and insecurity.
The UN’s 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks 2.6 billion U.S. dollars, is just 15 per cent funded.
Guterres said that it’s unacceptable that Somalis, who have done almost nothing to create the climate crisis, are suffering its terrible impact just as they are beginning to emerge from years of conflict and insecurity.
The UN chief lauded Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s efforts to advance peace and security and highlighted the importance of strong collaboration with federal states to address the threats posed by al-Shabab.
In spite of several challenges, Guterres said, the people of Somalia continue to demonstrate enormous strength and resilience.
“The UN is committed to supporting national and regional efforts to protect human rights and combat terrorism and violent extremism including through the African Union’s Transition Mission,” he said.
Guterres, who last, visited Somalia in 2017, also called for the full participation of Somalia’s women and young people in political life including the constitutional review.
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