UN chief Guterres calls for 'immediate' funding for Horn of Africa

Wednesday May 24 2023
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP


UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on nations to ramp up funding to the Horn of Africa, which is suffering its worst drought in generations.

The United Nations says that more than 43 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in urgent need of lifesaving and life-sustaining assistance.

"Without an immediate and major injection of funding, emergency operations will grind to a halt, and people will die," Guterres told a conference in New York, where world governments gathered to seek $7 billion to help those in need across the region.

The secretary-general said only 20 percent of the UN's humanitarian response plan for the region was funded so far.
"This is unacceptable," he told delegates.

Somalia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa including Ethiopia and Kenya have been suffering the worst drought in four decades after five failed rainy seasons that have left millions of people in need and decimated crops and livestock.

Read: UN chief Guterres arrives in Somalia


More than 23.5 million people are enduring high levels of acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, according to the OCHA, the UN humanitarian agency.

In Somalia alone, the number of people displaced now stands at 3.8 million, with 6.7 million people struggling to find food, according to the UN and Norwegian Refugee Council.

“More than half a million children are severely malnourished,” they added.

Deaths from hunger are on the rise in Africa because of droughts worsened by climate change and conflict, UN officials say.

Guterres said people in the region were paying an unconscionable price for a climate crisis they did nothing to cause.

"We owe them solidarity, assistance and a measure of hope for the future. This means immediate action to secure their survival and sustained action is needed to help communities across the Horn adapt and build resilience to climate change," he said.