Monday May 16, 2022
The United Nations top relief official has warned of the
worsening drought in the Horn of Africa region which has already affected more
than 18 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian
affairs and emergency relief coordinator who concluded a two-day visit to Kenya
on Friday where he saw first-hand the devastating impact of a fourth
consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa called for urgent
solutions to save lives and communities amid the severe drought.
“We have been ringing the alarm on this crisis, and
urging whomever is able to contribute, for many months,” Griffiths said in
a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
He said during his visit, he met with people in the village
of Lomopus in Turkana County, northwest Kenya, and spoke with displaced people
in Doolow, Somalia, as well as Korehey zone in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.
“Each of the people I spoke with were clear: this
crisis is threatening both their lives, and their way of life. They need the
world’s attention and action. Now!” Griffiths said.
The UN said the drought in the Horn of Africa region has
already affected more than 18 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and
Kenya, including at least 16.7 million people who are waking hungry each day
and do not know where their next meal will come from.
These numbers, the UN said, are expected to rise in the
weeks ahead, as the current rainy season – which ordinarily lasts from March to
May – has been below average, making this the longest drought in the Horn of
Africa in at least four decades.
The UN official lauded the donors for their pledges and
commitments to help respond to the drought in the Horn of Africa.
“But the reality is that we are out of time: if we
don’t immediately receive new funding to scale up humanitarian operations, we
are faced with the prospect of significant loss of life in the period
ahead,” Griffiths said.
In the village of Lomopus, community members told Griffiths
that this is the worst drought they have endured in living memory, noting that
many families have lost their livestock and are struggling to survive.
“Those who manage to buy food are sharing their meager
supplies with their neighbors, while many only have palm fruit to eat. Children
in the village depend on the government’s school feeding program to have one
meal a day, as there is often no food at home,” he said.
During his visit, the humanitarian chief also met with
Kenyan government officials, with whom he discussed the government’s response
to the drought, as well as the vital need for life-saving action today,
accompanied by support for drought-affected communities to adapt and thrive
into the future.
“If I have one message to the world, it is to not
forget the people of Lomopus and others across the region who desperately need
our support. These people are the human face of the global climate crisis,
which they have done nothing to create. We must step up and stand in solidarity
with them before it is too late,” Griffiths said.