Wrapping up his two-day visit to Somalia, the UN chief on Wednesday reaffirmed his commitment to support Somalia’s path to peace and stability.
“Let us come together to advance peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, and build a better future for all Somalis,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.
He said Somalia faces many challenges, and the United Nations stands in solidarity with the Somali people.
“In these challenging times, I commend the energy and resilience of its people,” he said.
Guterres mentioned the climate change hazards in Somalia and said the Horn of Africa nation is only contributing 0.03% to greenhouse gas emissions, but “as I just witnessed, Somalis are among the greatest victims of the chaos caused by the climate crisis.”
Guterres’ visit to Somalia comes at a time when the country is witnessing one of the worst droughts in recorded history and terrorist attacks from the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab which has been fighting the Somali government and the African Union (AU) peacekeepers since 2007.
Mohamed Jabuti, an independent analyst based in the capital Mogadishu, said the UN chief’s visit to Somalia is “significant and timely because the world cannot afford to see Somalia hit by another deadly famine.”
In 2011, Somalia was hit by a famine that killed 260,000 people, more than half of them children under six, according to the UN.
Currently, nearly half of Somalia’s population – 8.25 million people – need lifesaving humanitarian and protection assistance due to climate shocks, which include five consecutive years of poor rainy seasons, and protracted conflict.
Of those, some 3.8 million are internally displaced, and nearly five million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity, according to the UN.
Around 1.8 million children are severely malnourished, and eight million people lack access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Two-thirds of all people in drought-affected areas in Somalia have no access to essential healthcare.
The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan to meet Somalia’s needs requires $2.6 billion to assist 7.6 million people – but according to the UN, the funding stands at around 15% so far.