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SG: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.
I decided that I would make in Baidoa my first field visit of my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations. And the reason why I came to Mogadishu and Baidoa is very simple: to express my deep solidarity with the Somali people in this moment that is at the same time both tragic and
It is exactly because it is tragic and because it is hopeful that it makes sense to make a very strong appeal to the international community to fully support Somalia at the present moment.
Last week in New York, I had the opportunity to appeal for massive support from the international community in order to avoid a tragic development, a famine in four countries in the world – in South Sudan, in North East Nigeria, in Yemen and in Somalia.
There is a chance to avoid the worst. There is a chance in Somalia to avoid a situation like the one we had in 2011. There is excellent cooperation between the President, the government, and the humanitarian community – the UN family, the NGO movement and the Red Cross Red Crescent. There is a plan of action. There is capacity on the ground. But we need massive support from the international community to avoid a repetition of the tragic events of 2011. I remember in Dollo Ado and seeing Somalis come in terrible situations and suffering that is absolutely unacceptable in the modern world.
But today, we have 6.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia – that’s almost half of the Somali population. We have 333,000 children that are acutely malnourished and there’s the risk that it could go up to a million if there’s not enough support to avoid it. We have 3.3 million people in need of health support to avoid the impact of diseases and to avoid the circumstances under which it is so easy to lose one’s life because of lack of health assistance. Cholera has been developing and making hunger even worse and more dangerous. In the last two months, we had 7,731 cases of cholera with 183 people dying. Just last week - 1,352 cases of cholera and 38 people dying. It’s a process in acceleration.
All these reasons justify a massive response. We have things prepared on the ground but we need financial support from the international community.
That is why we are appealing for 825 million dollars for the support to 5.5 million people for six months. Without that support we will have a tragedy that is absolutely unacceptable and that the Somali people do not deserve.
But this is also a moment of hope – a moment of hope because Somalia is turning the page. A new President was elected. A new Prime Minister was appointed. There is a very strong commitment to enhance security and at the same time to enhance the capacity of the government to start to provide
effective services to the population, requiring, of course, the solidarity of the international community.
We have AMISOM forces doing a job that the world should be grateful for because they are not only protecting Somalis, they are protecting us all against terrorism. AMISOM has not been effectively helped by the international community. It is important to better support AMISOM but it is also important to support the government to create a true national Somali Army and a true national Somali Police because, only then, will it be able to fully to protect the country from terrorism. Only then will it be able to create the conditions to avoid in the future the kind of tragedies Somalia is facing today.
This is a moment of tragedy. People are dying because of famine, because of diseases. But this is a moment of hope because the government is ready to act, because the humanitarian community is ready to act.
They are cooperating and, with the support of the international community, it will be possible to avoid the worst and it will be possible to launch the pillars, the fundamental basis for Somalia to be able to turn the page and for Somalia to, finally, find the way to stability, peace and prosperity that Somalis have always been able to manage by themselves. There is no other people in the world with more entrepreneurship capacity, with more initiative capacity than the Somali people.
Let’s try to help the Somali people come together and build a Somali state of peace and prosperity. Thank you very much.
Q: What can you do personally to persuade particularly the richest countries and the biggest companies around the world to actually open their wallets at this time?
SG: I’m not appealing for the generosity of the rich, I’m appealing for the enlightened self-interest of the rich. We live in a world with a multiplication of conflicts. Somalia is one of them. Conflicts are interrelated, and they are related to a threat of global terrorism. There is not only terrorism in Somalia or in the neighbourhood of Somalia. There are terrorist attacks in Paris, there are terrorist attacks in other European cities, in North American cities, and if we want to fight terrorism we need to address the root causes of terrorism. We need to bring peace and stability to countries like Somalia, and to address in an effective way the risk of famine is to support the stabilization of Somalia. It is the best way to address root causes of terrorism. It is the best way for rich countries to protect themselves. So, we are not appealing to generosity, we are appealing to people to be intelligent enough to understand that to let countries like Somalia perish and to let the Somali people suffer the dramatic impact of the combination of drought, conflict and disease is a danger for everybody.
SG: We need massive investment. First of all addressing the need of food security for populations that are dying of hunger. We need to combine that with development actions to build the resilience of the population to avoid the repetition of these crises year after year, not forgetting that climate change is becoming an accelerator of these crises, namely of drought, that is happening more and more frequently and with more and more devastating consequences around the world. At the same time we need to support these countries, build the capacity in order to ensure their own security, build their own armies, their own police forces, support them in building their own institutions in order to be able to fight terrorism in an effective way.