‘Worsening drought in Horn of Africa in 4 decades’

The United Nations (UN) top relief official has warned of the worsening drought in the Horn of Africa region which has already affected more than 18 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who concluded a two-day visit to Kenya on Friday where he saw first-hand the devastating impact of a fourth consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa, called for urgent solutions to save lives and communities amid the severe drought. 

“We have been ringing the alarm on this crisis, and urging whomever is able to contribute, for many months,” Griffiths said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. 

He said during his visit, he met with people in the village of Lomopus in Turkana County, northwest Kenya, and spoke with displaced people in Doolow, Somalia, as well as Korehey zone in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.

“Each of the people I spoke with were clear: this crisis is threatening both their lives, and their way of life. They need the world’s attention and action. Now!” Griffiths said.

The UN said the drought in the Horn of Africa region had already affected more than 18 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, including at least 16.7 million people who were waking to hunger each day and did not know where their next meal was coming from.

These numbers, the UN said, were expected to rise in the weeks ahead, as the current rainy season – which ordinarily lasts from March to May – has been below average, making this the longest drought in the Horn of Africa in at least four decades. 

The UN official lauded the donors for their pledges and commitments to help respond to the drought in the Horn of Africa.

“But the reality is that we are out of time: if we don’t immediately receive new funding to scale up humanitarian operations, we are faced with the prospect of significant loss of life in the period ahead,” Griffiths said.

In the village of Lomopus, community members told Griffiths that this was the worst drought they have endured in living memory, noting that many families have lost their livestock and were struggling to survive.  -Xinhua

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