US urges donors to give much more as Somalia faces famine – KGET 17

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – The first female member of the U.S. administration to visit Somalia since 2015 called on distracted donors around the world on Sunday to urgently help the country facing a deadly famine, which she called “the ultimate failure of the international community.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has heard perhaps the starkest warning of the crisis: The excess deaths in Somalia’s longest drought on record will “almost certainly” surpass those of the country’s formally declared famine in 2011, when more than of a quarter of a million people.

This time, the world is looking elsewhere, many aid officials say.

“Many traditional donors have washed their hands and focused on Ukraine,” UN Resident Coordinator in Somalia Adam Abdelmoula told Thomas-Greenfield during a briefing in Mogadishu.

While the US ambassador refused to openly “name and shame” in her speech calling on donors for additional aid, saying “Countries know who we are talking about”, the UN Resident Coordinator did not hesitate.

The European Union, for example, funded only 10 percent of the humanitarian plan for Somalia last year, Abdelmoula told The Associated Press. The EU gave 74 million dollars, and Great Britain 78 million dollars, according to UN data. Japan contributed $27 million, and Saudi Arabia $22 million.

The United States, meanwhile, has funded about 80%, giving $1.3 billion to Somalia since the start of fiscal year 2022. On Sunday, the ambassador announced another 40 million dollars.

But the U.S. “can’t continue to pay at that level, even if Ukraine doesn’t exist,” Thomas-Greenfield told the AP in an interview, adding that Washington would like to see countries in the nearby Gulf region, for example, donate more.

She cited fatal risks in the coming weeks if other nations do not step up. “According to the UN, without contributions from other donors, critical food and nutrition assistance supporting 4.6 million people in Somalia will end” by April, Thomas-Greenfield said.

It will be just as the parched country’s sixth straight rainy season is expected to fail. The US is “deeply disturbed” by the dire situation, she told aid officials.

The ambassador delivered her speech at the coastal diplomatic complex at Mogadishu’s international airport, where bunkered officials are trying to respond to a growing crisis exacerbated by the security threat to large parts of Somalia from al-Qaeda’s East African affiliate, al-Shabab.

Tens of thousands of people are thought 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 5 in Somalia alone suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to the UN Children’s Agency. Millions of livestock essential to the family’s health and wealth have died.

While the most recent assessment of data released last year showed that Somalia had not met the standards for a formal declaration of famine, the UN and the US have made it clear that limited humanitarian aid has only delayed the worst.

Somalia’s nearly 2 million starving people are at a crisis point where “the bodies are starting to be consumed,” said one Western aid official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

There are now 2.7 million more people in need than during Somalia’s last famine in 2011, the official added.

About 900,000 of them live in areas controlled by al-Shabab extremists, complicating efforts both to understand the effects of the drought and to reach people with aid.

But the death toll from the drought remains unclear even as fears grow. “I don’t think any of us know the number,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

The last cabinet member to visit Somalia was John Kerry as Secretary of State in May 2015.


Follow AP’s coverage of Somalia at https://apnews.com/hub/somalia

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