Somali refugee Faiza Abdulahi Hassan (center), 32, poses with her five girls in the Dadaab refugee camp, one of Africa's largest refugee camps in Kenya, on Mar 23, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
MOGADISHU — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrapped up his two-day visit to Somalia by calling on donors to ramp up humanitarian support to prevent the crisis in Somalia where the risk of famine is still looming.
Guterres, who arrived in Somalia 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 told journalists in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, at the end of his visit.
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
He said 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 percent," 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, and spoke to families who have lost their livelihoods to drought and insecurity.
He appealed to donors to stand with Somalis in their time of need as 8.25 million people need lifesaving humanitarian and protection assistance due to climate shocks, which include five consecutive years of poor rainy seasons, and protracted conflict.
The international community has the responsibility and the interest to support Somalia with the resources needed to defeat al-Shabab, build resilience and stabilize the areas liberated and provide much-needed humanitarian assistance, Guterres said.
The UN's 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks 2.6 billion US dollars, is just 15 percent 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.
Despite 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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