Mogadishu, Jan. 30 (BNA): The first member of the US Cabinet to visit Somalia since 2015 urged donors scattered around the world Sunday to provide immediate aid to a country facing a deadly famine, which she called “the ultimate failure of the international community.”
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, has heard perhaps the sharpest warning yet about the crisis: Excess deaths during what is now Somalia’s longest recorded drought will “almost certainly” outpace the country’s officially declared famine in 2011, when more than a quarter of a million people died.
This time, many humanitarian officials say, the world is looking elsewhere.
“Many of the traditional donors have washed their hands and focused on Ukraine,” the UN Resident Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmawla, told Thomas Greenfield during a news conference in Mogadishu.
While the US ambassador publicly rejected the “name and disgrace” in her speech, calling on donors for more assistance.
Abdel Mawla told The Associated Press that the EU funded only 10% of the humanitarian response plan for Somalia last year.
According to UN data, the European Union provided $74 million and the United Kingdom $78 million. Japan provided $27 million and Saudi Arabia $22 million.
Meanwhile, the United States has funded nearly 80%, providing $1.3 billion to Somalia since the start of fiscal 2022. The ambassador announced another $40 million on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of people are believed to have died in the drought, which is also affecting parts of neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. More than half a million children under the age of five in Somalia alone suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency. Millions of livestock, essential to the health and wealth of families, died.
While the most recent data assessment released last year found that Somalia did not meet the criteria for an official declaration of famine, the United Nations and the United States made clear that limited humanitarian aid had only delayed the worst.
A Western humanitarian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said that nearly 2 million hungry people in Somalia are in a crisis point where “corpses start eating themselves”.
The official added that there are now 2.7 million more people in need than there were during the last famine in Somalia in 2011.