U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Tuesday appealed to the 192 member states to respond to a growing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.
'We cannot afford to wait,' he told reporters, urging member states to respond 'fully and without delay'. Over 11 million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti face the worst drought in over 50 years.
Ban convened an emergency meeting Tuesday with heads of participating UN agencies.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have collectively appealed for 1.6 billion dollars to pay for essential life-saving programmes in the region. But so far they have only received about 800,000,000 dollars.
'Our priority is to stop the suffering now' Ban told reporters, 'But, looking ahead, we must do more to tackle the underlying fragility in this region.'
In addition to the suffering caused by the drought, violence in Somalia has caused an influx of people into refugee camps.
'I believe Somalia represents the worst humanitarian disaster in the world,' said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. If aid is brought to victims of the drought, it will also be brought to Somalis suffering in refugee camps.
Three camps in Dadaab, eastern Kenya, were built 20 years ago to house roughly 90,000 people. They currently houses over 400,000 refugees and are over-crowded. The drought makes conditions worse, and many people arrive so malnourished that they cannot be helped. About 1,700 more people arrive every day.
Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, expressed a need for more refugee camps, and programmes to aid those facing the drought. 'The need to do more now is urgent. But in addition we also need to plan for the longer term to help people rebuild their lives when the situation improves,' Amos told reporters Monday.
'Everyone I met spoke of the lack of water and the impact it is having on their daily lives,' said Amos, who visited Ethiopia on last week. But the drought is expected to worsen.
© Inter Press Service (2011) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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