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Somali PM: More Than 2 Million at Risk of Starvation From Drought

  • Margaret Besheer

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed after his swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential residence in Mogadishu, Somalia. Monday Nov. 1, 2010

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed after his swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential residence in Mogadishu, Somalia. Monday Nov. 1, 2010

Somalia’s Prime Minister says nearly 2.5 million Somalis are in danger of starvation as a severe drought cripples his country’s agriculture sector. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed told the U.N. Security Council Friday that his new government urgently needs international support to avert a deepening humanitarian crisis in his country, which is already suffering under the consequences of 20 years of conflict.

Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said Somalia’s agriculture sector is in the early stages of collapse, after a failed rainy season from October to December in most parts of the country. He spoke to reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council.

"Nearly 2.5 million are on the verge of starvation. Unless we have immediate support - international support - definitely there will be a catastrophic situation in Somalia," said Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. "So we are asking the international community to immediately reach, hopefully, these starving people."

The U.N. says the current drought situation has affected the majority of the country, although some areas in central and northern Somalia have been in crisis for the past three years.

Some aid organizations, including the World Food Program, have suspended operations in parts of Somalia because of threats from the Al-Shabab militants, who have banned them from areas under their control.

Last week, the United Nations warned that the unfolding drought situation is increasing the threat of hunger and disease in the Horn of Africa country, and called on all parties to increase and facilitate humanitarian access.

During his briefing to the Security Council, the prime minister said his transitional government, which is less than two months old, has started delivering aid to those in need in areas under its control. As for persons living in rebel-controlled areas, he said they have identified ways to deliver aid in those areas, but did not say they had actually done so yet.

Prime Minister Mohamed said his government had received 149 tons of food aid from the United Arab Emirates and he called on other countries to respond similarly. He also urged the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to speed up their arrival in Mogadishu to assist in the organization and distribution of aid. And he called on the Somali Diaspora to do their share to help their homeland.

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