Emergency Relief Coordinator’s key messages on Horn of Africa, 5 August 2011 · Issue Number 5
I. Key Messages
Famine has spread in Somalia, including Mogadishu, and threatens to expand throughout the south. We need to respond with a greater sense of urgency. Too many people are dying. The situation is far too serious to be treated as ‘business as usual’, yet this continues to be the case in some quarters. Our partners continue to work hard on the ground to save lives. We must match their commitment with enhanced responsiveness in capitals and headquarters.
12.4 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti urgently need our help. That is more than every man, woman and child in New York and Chicago combined, and the numbers are increasing.
There have been reports that 29,000 children have died in the past three months. It is difficult to state death figures with precision, but we can say with confidence that tens of thousands of people died in southern Somalia from the beginning of April to the end of June, half of them younger than 5. This is already far too high.
We must tackle a surge in sexual violence amongst refugees, as well as violence by armed gangs and state security forces. We have still not been given permission to enter many areas, and there are worrying reports that armed groups have barred people from leaving drought-ridden areas to seek help. Humanitarian agencies must be allowed to reach people in need, wherever they are.
Even if we gain access, we are concerned that we would not have enough resources to provide people with the aid they need. We are looking at credible alternatives, like providing cash for people to buy food. We must do more to fix continued shortfalls. We need another $1.4 billion to keep people alive, and we need it now.
This crisis cannot be left only to the UN and traditional donors. More donors from more countries, including the private sector and individuals, need to step up their assistance. We support all efforts by regional organizations such as the African Union and IGAD to respond; this is a moment for all of us to pull together and tackle this crisis together.
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