United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, arrived in Somalia on Tuesday morning as part of efforts to help fight famine and a cholera threat.
The UN chief met with President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed Farmajo to hold high-level talks as part of the visit. His office also confirmed that he will be visiting internally displaced people in the country.
‘‘I am here to express my solidarity with the people of Somalia. The world needs to act now to avert a humanitarian crisis,’‘ the former UN refugee agency chief told reporters in Mogadishu.
I am here to express my solidarity with the people of Somalia. The world needs to act now to avert a humanitarian crisis.
‘‘This is a moment of tragedy but also a moment of hope with a new Somali government that is ready to act,’‘ he added.
President Farmajo last week declared the current drought a ‘national disaster’ and called for international assistance to avert a catastrophe. He also called on Somalis in the diaspora to play a role in alleviating the crisis.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed over the weekend that his country was raising funds to support countries in East Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia) and Yemen – who were battling with a crippling drought.
An estimated five million Somalis do not have enough to eat according to the United Nations. The drought has led to poor harvests, livestock deaths and fears of a period of severe hunger are rippling through the region, including in neighbouring South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Aid agencies say Somalia is at risk of a repeat of the famine that killed nearly 260,000 people in 2011 if aid is not stepped up over the next two months. Initial forecasts are predicting a third consecutive poor rainy season in April.
In 2011 the humanitarian response was too slow and tens of thousands of people died before the famine was officially declared in July. This time preparations started early, with two drought warnings and a pre-famine alert issued over the past 12 months, but the UN says more funds are needed.