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Somali President Pleads to UN for Urgent Aid to Avert Famine | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of the Security Council raise their hand as they vote on the situation in Somalia at the Security Council on March 23, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York.

United Nations- Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appealed to the international community for more aid to avert a famine threatening his country that could also undermine fledgling political hopes born in his peaceful election.

“Almost half of our people are facing acute food shortages and about 15 percent are facing famine” amid a severe drought, the Somali president, also known as Farmajo, said in a video conference with the United Nations Security Council.

“Among the many pressing priorities for my administration, responding effectively to the current humanitarian crisis tops the agenda,” he said about the horn of Africa country of 12 million people.

“The response from the Somali people and international community has been tremendous,” the president told the council. “We kindly request that all those who can — support this effort further.”

In addition, he pledged to develop the country’s own defenses against Al-Shabaab that was forced out of the capital in 2011 by African Union troops but still controls parts of the country.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired the council meeting, also pleaded with members to increase their aid to Somalia.

“The crisis risks undermining the hard-won political progress that has been made. If we learn the lessons of 2011, and act early and decisively, the famine can still be prevented,” he said.

Only 32 percent of the $864 million needed this year to prevent famine has been raised, said Michael Keating, the UN special representative for Somalia.

The delivery of the funds is especially urgent to halt the spread of cholera, which now affects 11 of the country’s 18 regions, he said.

“More resources are needed by the end of March… to reach affected people before it’s too late,” Keating warned.

Somalia, along with Yemen and Nigeria, are on the verge of famine, while the disaster has already been declared in South Sudan.

The United Nations has called on the international community for an urgent mobilization of funds — $4.4 billion by July — for the four countries to avert a catastrophe.