Somali envoy calls for more UN aid for country on brink of famine

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NEW YORK – Somalia’s special envoy to the UN sought Wednesday to draw attention to the gravity of the crisis in his destitute country in order to mobilize more aid.

 

Millions of people are at risk of starvation across the Horn of Africa, which is in the grip of the worst drought in four decades after four failed rainy seasons wiped out livestock and crops.

“We are here to lobby, to bring your attention to the magnitude of this crisis, the level of a humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia,” Abdirahman Abdishakur told AFP.

During meetings with UN agencies and member states since the beginning of the week, Abdishakur has repeated that there is still “a huge gap” between the promised aid and Somalia’s current financial needs.

The UN said at the end of August it had received 67 percent of its $1.5 billion aid target for Somalia. But with the fifth consecutive failed rainy season forecast in the fall, the amount needed will increase.

“If there is not enough humanitarian response… the famine will happen,” Abdishakur warned.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said last week that Somalia is on the brink of famine for the second time in just over a decade.

He said the situation was worse than the famine in 2011 when 260,000 people died, more than half of them children under the age of six.

“We have a very narrow window to save lives,” Griffiths warned, speaking alongside Abdishakur at the UN headquarters in New York.

“People are dying today.”

And children are being hit hardest. The number of children aged six months to five years suffering from severe malnutrition has shot up from 389,000 to 513,000, according to figures released Tuesday by UNICEF.

Source: AFP

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