UN Chief says Somalia needs another $900 million for drought response

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used his platform at the London Conference on Somalia to plead for increased humanitarian assistance in Somalia to avert the possibility of a famine.  The UN says it needs an additional $900 million this year.

“This morning we presented the revised humanitarian response plan seeking an additional $900 million to the end the year,” Guterres said in opening remarks at an international conference on Somalia hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The drought in Somalia has created a humanitarian disaster as over half of the total Somali population (6.2 million) in need of food aid and just under half a million at risk of famine, the vast majority of which being children.

As a result of poor access to drinking water, health officials are desperately trying to push back a cholera outbreak. Since the beginning of the year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed over 36,000 cases, with the most infected area’s being Baidoa and its surrounding villages.

Earlier this year, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo called the drought a “national disaster”.

Despite a massive donor drive since the beginning of the year, aid experts say Somalia still faces an uphill battle and more aid is needed to thwart a full-blown famine.

The one-day conference, organized by the UK, Somalia and the UN will aim to tackle key areas that are needed for Somalia to rise from the ‘failed state’ status including security, economic development, and humanitarian assistance.