U.N. chief urges help for hunger cri­sis in So­ma­lia

Drought-stricken coun­try also faces cholera out­break.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Khaled Kaz­zhia

BAIDOA, SO­MA­LIA — Vis­i­bly shocked by the suf­fer­ing of mal­nour­ished So­ma­lis and cholera vic­tims dur­ing an emer­gency visit, U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res on Tues­day urged in­ter­na­tional sup­port to al­le­vi­ate So­ma­lia’s wors­en­ing hunger cri­sis.

“Ev­ery sin­gle per­son we have seen is a per­sonal story of tremen­dous suf­fer­ing. There is no way to de­scribe it,” Guter­res said af­ter see­ing skele­tal men, women and chil­dren in a cholera ward in Baidoa, 151 miles north­west of the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu.

So­ma­lia’s pro­longed drought has caused wide­spread hunger and the short­age of clean wa­ter has re­sulted in cholera.

On his first field trip since be­com­ing the U.N. chief, Guter­res said So­ma­lia’s famine cri­sis re­quires a mas­sive re­sponse. He said 6 mil­lion peo­ple, or al­most half of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, need as­sis­tance.

“Peo­ple are dy­ing. The world must act now to stop this,” he tweeted on his ar­rival in this Horn of Africa na­tion.

“We need to make as much noise as pos­si­ble,” Guter­res said. “Con­flict, drought, cli­mate change, dis­ease, cholera. The com­bi­na­tion is a night­mare.”

In Baidoa’s cholera wards, adults and chil­dren had sunken eyes and pro­trud­ing ribs. Guter­res also vis­ited a camp with hun­dreds of fam­i­lies dis­placed by the drought and So­ma­lia’s bat­tle against the Is­lamic ex­trem­ists of al-Shabab. He saw hun­gry fam­i­lies seek­ing shel­ter un­der flimsy plas­tic.

“I have noth­ing. This is not a shel­ter, we barely get any food here and we have no pro­tec­tion. It’s not safe, I am suf­fer­ing,” said 34-yearold Deira Mo­hamed Nor, with her 10-month-old baby girl Dahiro Ishaak Hus­sein, who is sick with malaria. Nor said she recently lost one of her chil­dren to di­ar­rhea.

So­ma­lia is part of a $4 bil­lion aid ap­peal launched last month for four na­tions suf­fer­ing from con­flict and hunger. The oth­ers are Nige­ria, Ye­men and South Su­dan, where famine has been de­clared in two coun­ties.

So­ma­lia over the week­end an­nounced its first death toll since declar­ing a na­tional dis­as­ter last week, say­ing 110 peo­ple had died in a 48-hour pe­riod in a sin­gle re­gion.

Meet­ing the U.N. chief, So­ma­lia’s Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Ab­dul­lahi Mo­hamed said: “My first pri­or­ity is to ad­dress this drought cri­sis, and my main pri­or­ity is to make an ap­peal to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to help us.”

So­ma­lia is one of the six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries af­fected by the re­vised travel ban or­dered by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Mo­hamed took Guter­res’ visit as an op­por­tu­nity to speak out against it.

“Def­i­nitely we will pre­fer to see that this travel ban should be lifted and, of course, we have to com­mu­ni­cate with the U.S. gov­ern­ment be­cause as ev­ery­one knows we have a large So­mali com­mu­nity in the United States who I’m sure have con­trib­uted to the U.S. econ­omy,” said Mo­hamed, who him­self has dual So­mali-U.S. ci­ti­zen­ship.

KHALED KAZZIHA / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

U.N. Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res (cen­ter) vis­its Baidoa, So­ma­lia, on Tues­day. “Ev­ery sin­gle per­son we have seen is a per­sonal story of tremen­dous suf­fer­ing. There is no way to de­scribe it,” Guter­res said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.