UN Relief Chief Visits Somalia

Published: September 5, 2022

United Nations Relief Chief Martin Griffiths has visited Somalia’s South West state, the epicenter of the country’s severe drought. That drought has already displaced more than 1 million people.

In his first visit to Somalia, the most drought-affected country in the Horn of Africa, U.N. relief chief Martin Griffiths said the country needs global support to curb the worst drought in 40 years.

In a news conference in Baidoa, the epicenter of the drought, after he met with South West state President Abdiasiis Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen, Griffiths said it is “almost unimaginable” that Baidoa is sheltering 750,000 displaced people.

Somalia’s drought, which devastated 90% of the country, has already displaced more than 1 million people and 7.8 million others need humanitarian assistance.

The U.N. relief chief commended the local community in Baidoa for their efforts to help the displaced.

“One more point, we fear the worst may yet to come, we fear that we will see exponentially increasing need, we fear globally that Baidoa and this South West state is going to need the charity generosity and priority of the world because of the scale of suffering that we anticipate,” he said.

In a brief statement Griffiths posted on Twitter after the visit, he said that he saw babies too weak to cry, and mothers who are still children themselves.

“The silence of the international community is deafening,” he wrote.

For his part, South West state President Laftagareen welcomed the visit by the U.N. delegation.

He says they discussed the current issues such as the drought relief efforts and the way that drought-affected people can be supported. They also spoke of ways to provide emergency relief in South West state.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Somalia office said Saturday that food prices have spiked in the country and hunger is rising.

It said that for the first time since 2017 “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity have been confirmed, with 213,000 people in famine-like conditions.

UNICEF earlier told VOA that drought-related malnutrition has already killed 500 children in Somalia.

Somalia last year declared the three-year drought a national emergency.

According to the prime minister’s office, the drought has also killed more than 2 million livestock and affected 28% of the country’s total livestock population.

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