United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in Somalia Tuesday morning on his first field visit since he took office in January in what he said was “a show of solidarity with Somalia people”.
Mr Guterres held talks with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and is expected to visit people affected by hunger and cholera. The Horn of Africa nation faces a triple crisis of famine, conflict and a cholera outbreak with about three million at risk. The visit is meant to draw global attention to the humanitarian crisis.
“The combination of hunger, conflict, disease and drought requires massive response,” noted Mr Guterres.
“We need to make as much noise as possible,” he said. “Conflict, drought, climate change, disease, cholera. The combination is a nightmare.”
He appealed for $825 million to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa nation. On Monday, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said 110 people died in southern Somalia due to famine and diarrhoea.
Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the country was at risk of its third famine in 25 years. In 2011, 260,000 Somalis starved to death due to famine.
The UN chief said the situation in the country was “both tragic and hopeful.”
“This time we are better organised to respond much faster –the UN, the NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross and governments– in terms of logistics and funding,” Mr Guterres said.
WHO said more than half of the population — about 6.2 million people — were in need urgent humanitarian aid. President Farmajo has already declared the severe drought national disaster and appealed for support from the international community.
Mr Guterres said the UN last week made a massive appeal for $4.4 billion to respond to the situation in countries ravaged by conflict and drought including Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. He added that he was hoping for a good response. A number of UN fundraising activities are lined up, including a conference in London.