31 January 2016

Opening remarks at press encounter during visit to area affected by drought in Ethiopia

Ban Ki-moon

Iā€™m very moved to be in this Oromia region with the Deputy Prime Minister. I am here with the Executive Director of the World Food Programme. Thank you very much for your warm welcome.

I come from a very impressive, moving and interesting visit to a health post, a water borehole and this food distribution and cash transfer point. This is a very moving experience for me as Secretary-General to witness myself how the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations agencies, the World Bank, all humanitarian workers are working together to address difficult challenges.

I know that this area has been seriously impacted by long spells of drought caused by El Nino climate phenomenon. It is important that the Government is leading this response and the United Nations is now helping: it is quite moving.

When I saw the people working and trying to have water and trying to improve their health nutrition conditions, it brought me back to old days, more than 60 years ago when I was young, a young boy in Korea, early 1950s. As you may know, Korea had war at the time. When the war broke out, we were [in a situation] as difficult as people are now here, even more difficult at the time.

At the time, humanitarians and United Nations support came and I am feeling very much moved that the boy, the young boy who went through that kind of difficulties is now standing before you as UN Secretary-General.

I am very much grateful to all humanitarian workers at the health post [that I just visited]. This is a small health post but I was able to see all the data through the work of health workers, and they were distributing vaccines, and they were checking health. It is impressive to see that malnutrition has significantly downed, people have been saved from malaria infections.

Then I went to see the water borehole. I have always been saying that water is life ā€“ providing clean safe drinking water is a priority now.

I am very much grateful to the Ethiopian Government, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister Desalegn. The United Nations is committed to help Ethiopia to overcome this challenge. This challenge may last sometime but with continuous concerted efforts, I think we can overcome ā€“ and I am very much moved to have seen how hard we are working.