With Horn of Africa in Crisis, Growing Deeper Each Day, Secretary-General Says

24 September 2011
SG/SM/13845-AFR/2253

With Horn of Africa in Crisis, Growing Deeper Each Day, Secretary-General Says

24 September 2011
Secretary-General
SG/SM/13845 AFR/2253
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

With Horn of Africa in Crisis, Growing Deeper Each Day, Secretary-General Says

Addressing Underlying Risks Among Keys to Ensuring It Does Not Strike Again

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Mini-Summit on the Horn of Africa, in New York, 24 September:

I would like to thank you, particularly the presence of Heads of State and Government in the Horn of Africa; from Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia.  Your participation is a demonstration of your firm commitment to address these issues.

The Horn of Africa is in crisis, and that crisis grows deeper by the day.  In Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti, more than 13 million people need our help.  In Somalia, famine has spread through large areas of the south.  Three-quarters of a million men, women and children are at imminent risk of starvation; 4 million need our urgent help.  Tens of thousands of refugees have moved to Mogadishu, overwhelming its limited infrastructure.  Tens of thousands more have crossed the border to overcrowded camps in neighbouring countries.  Meanwhile, millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti continue to face severe difficulties.  Communities around refugee camps are asking for equal treatment.

The United Nations and its partners are providing food, health care and other assistance to more than 1 million people.  We have made progress in helping those most in need in Somalia.  But it is still not enough.  We could save many more lives if we were given free access to areas under the control of Al-Shabaab.  It is no coincidence that these are the districts where the crisis is most acute.  Somalia will never be free of the threat of famine until it has peace and stability.

Despite our efforts, the Horn of Africa remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.  Many of you have given generously, but we still need approximately $700 million this year.  Next year, we will need more.  National solidarity and international assistance has saved many lives.  But we cannot afford to lose the momentum.  As we scale up our response, we must also do more to coordinate our work.  Many organizations are now operating in Somalia, and many countries and organizations have undertaken fund-raising and given generous bilateral donations.  I thank them for their contribution.  But we must avoid confusion and duplication.  I therefore urge you, wherever possible, to work with the United Nations. 

We must also remember that, in the long-term, this is a crisis of resilience and development.  Thousands of households have sold their assets to stay alive.  Farmers and herdsmen have lost their livestock.  Even as we keep people alive today, we must help them survive a new crisis tomorrow.  We will see drought again — with increasing frequency.  But drought need not become famine.  Tackling the root causes of drought and food insecurity requires a long-term approach from national authorities and from donors.  Addressing underlying risk factors is among the keys to ensuring this crisis does not strike again.

Let us not allow drylands to remain investment deserts.  Let us ensure that women and children have access to basic health care and water.  Let us work for stability to allow markets to flourish.  In Ethiopia and Kenya, successful programmes have helped ensure that — despite the worst drought in decades — there is no famine.  This is a profound achievement that can be replicated someday in Somalia.

I ask you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to support such programmes, and to do all you can to help end this terrible cycle even as you contribute to saving lives.  We have an opportunity to make a real change.  Let us end the threat of famine forever.  Thank you very much for your commitment and leadership.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.