US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday urged world donors to immediately help Somalia face a famine, which she called “the biggest failure of the international community.” .
In what is the first visit by a US cabinet member to Somalia since 2015, Thomas-Greenfield heard the starkest warning yet about the crisis: Excessive deaths during the longest-ever drought record in Somali history will “almost certainly” exceed those of the country’s formally declared famine in 2011, when more than a quarter of a million people died.
The world is looking elsewhere this time around, say many aid officials.
“Many of the traditional donors have washed their hands of it and focused on Ukraine,” Adam Abdelmoula, the United Nations resident coordinator in Somalia, told Thomas-Greenfield during a briefing in Mogadishu.
Although the US ambassador declined to openly “name and shame” anyone in her speech calling for more donor aid, she did say: “Countries know who we mean.” For her part, Abdelmoula did not hesitate when it came to giving names.
The European Union, for example, only funded 10% of the humanitarian response plan for Somalia last year, Abdelmoula told The Associated Press. The EU gave 74 million dollars and Great Britain 78 million, according to UN data. Japan donated $27 million and Saudi Arabia $22 million.
For its part, the United States funded about 80%, giving Somalia $1.3 billion from the start of fiscal year 2022. The ambassador announced Sunday that Washington will donate another $40 million.
But the United States “cannot continue to play at that level, even if there is no (war in) Ukraine,” Thomas-Greenfield told the AP in an interview, also indicating that Washington would like countries in the nearby Persian Gulf to eg donate more.
He specified what the lethal risks will be in the coming weeks if other nations do not participate.
“According to the UN, without contributions from other donors, crucial food and nutrition assistance supporting 4.6 million people in Somalia will come to an end” by April, Thomas-Greenfield said.
That will come at a time when the sixth consecutive rainy season in the severely drought-stricken country is expected to go awry. The United States is “deeply concerned” by the dire situation, he told humanitarian aid officials.
The ambassador delivered her speech at the diplomatic complex implemented at the Mogadishu international airport, located on the seashore.
The last US cabinet member to visit Somalia was John Kerry when he was Secretary of State in May 2015.
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