Rome, Italy

25 July 2011

Secretary-General's Message to Emergency Ministerial Meeting on the Horn of Africa [Delivered by Ms. Valerie Amos, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs]

We gather on an emergency basis because a catastrophic combination of high food prices, drought and conflict has left more than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa in desperate need. People are now starving.

The members of our High-Level Task Force on Food Security –and their thousands of dedicated field staff –are working in coordination with national governments, the African Union, civil society, businesses and scientists on both immediate and long-term responses.

These responses –to the drought, and now the famine –must not only ensure that people are fed, but also encourage sustainable livelihoods and food and nutrition security, especially among pastoral people.

The needs are spelled out in the Task Force's Comprehensive Framework for Action. Short-term relief must be linked to building long-term sustainability. This means an agricultural transformation that improves the resilience of rural livelihoods and minimizes the scale of any future crisis. It means climate-smart crop production, livestock rearing, fish farming and forest maintenance practices that enable all people to have year-round access to the nutrition they need.

Pastoralist communities are the most vulnerable, with women and children on the front line. Providing accessible nutrition must be our top priority. To do this we need about $1 billion for the rest of this year. So far, we have only received half that amount.

I hope this meeting will encourage a broad political commitment –in the African Union, the G20 and the Committee for Food Security –to a comprehensive and sustained response. It is not just lives that are at stake, but the security and sustainability of a whole region.