The most severe drought in decades is threatening the lives of more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa, with the people of Somalia facing the greatest risks resulting from armed conflict and lack of sustainable security and governance. This confluence of famine and conflict is particularly devastating for women and children. While attempting to save their children from starvation, malnutrition and disease, women in Somalia are subject to conflict-related security threats including sexual violence. As they make the long journey from what was once their home to the refugee complexes either in Kenya or Ethiopia, women and children's vulnerability is exacerbated.
Adding to the efforts of others, I call on the international community and world leaders to rise up to the challenge of protecting women and children and responding to their urgent survival needs.
Despite all the efforts made to date, less than half of the funding needed to respond to the famine has been committed while the disaster deepens by the day. Out of the requested approximately USD 1 billion, only 40 percent — USD 408 million — has been provided, and an additional USD 49 million has been pledged.
UN Women urgently calls donor countries and all political and military factions in Somalia to ensure that special attention be given to the critical needs of women and children and ensure that this assistance reaches those most acutely in need.
—The writer is Executive Director of UN Women