UN: At least $1 billion needed to avert famine in Somalia

THE UNITED NATIONS — The UN humanitarian chief predicted on Tuesday that at least $1 billion would be urgently needed to avert famine in Somalia in the coming months and early next year, when two more dry seasons are expected to worsen. the historic drought that has hit the Horn of Africa nation.

Martin Griffiths told a video briefing from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that a new report by an authoritative group of independent experts indicates there will be famine in Somalia between October and December “if we don’t we cannot ward it off and avoid it as was the case in 2016 and 2017.

The under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs told UN correspondents that more than $1 billion in new funds were needed on top of the UN’s appeal for about $1.4 billion. That appeal was “very well funded”, he said, thanks to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which announced a $476 million donation in humanitarian and development assistance in July. .

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, established by USAID, said in a report on Monday that famine is expected to emerge later this year in three areas of Bay region, southeastern Somalia, including Baidoa, without emergency humanitarian aid.

Up to 7.1 million people across Somalia need urgent assistance to treat and prevent acute malnutrition and reduce hunger-related deaths, according to a recent analysis by the Integrated Food Security Classification or CPI, used by the network to describe the severity of food insecurity.

The Horn of Africa region has experienced four consecutive rainy seasons for the first time in more than half a century, putting an estimated 20 million people at risk in one of the poorest and most turbulent regions of the world.

Griffiths said meteorologists have predicted the likelihood of a failed fifth rainy season from October to December, and a failed sixth rainy season from January to March next year is also likely.

“This has never happened before in Somalia,” he said. “It’s unprecedented.”

“We banged the drums and shook the trees trying to garner international support in terms of attention, opportunities, possibilities and famine horror in the Horn of Africa – here in Somalia maybe first, but Ethiopia and Kenya, they’re probably not far behind,” Griffiths said.

He said the UN World Food Program had recently provided aid to almost 5.3 million Somalis, which is “a lot, but it will get worse if famine comes”. He said 98% of aid is provided in the form of cash handouts over the phone.

But thousands of people are not getting help and starving families in Somalia have been stumbling for days or weeks across arid terrain in search of help.

Griffiths said a big challenge is getting help to people before they leave their homes, to avoid mass displacement.

Many Somalis raise livestock, which is essential for their survival, but he said three million animals have died or been culled due to lack of rain.

“The continued drought, the continued failure of the rainy seasons mean that a generation’s way of life is in jeopardy,” Griffiths said.

He said the international community must help Somalis find an alternative way of life and earn a living, which will require development funding and funding to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Griffiths, a British diplomat, said the war in Ukraine had had an impact on humanitarian aid, with UN humanitarian appeals around the world receiving around 30% of the money needed on average.

“To those countries, which are traditionally very generous, mine included, and many others,” he said. “Please don’t forget Somalia. You haven’t done that in the past. You have contributed wonderfully in the past.”

ABC News

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