In a recent UN donor conference aimed at addressing the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, only $2.4 billion was raised, significantly below the requested amount of $7 billion.
The United Nations released a statement acknowledging that the funds raised have helped avert famine in the region but stressed the urgent need for additional resources. The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing its most severe drought in 40 years.
At the onset of the conference held in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed disappointment, revealing that only 20 percent of the UN’s regional humanitarian response plan had been financed so far. Mr. Guterres labeled this situation as “unacceptable” and emphasized the immediate action required to prevent a crisis that poses a threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions in the region.
The devastating effects of the drought have predominantly impacted Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, where five consecutive rainy seasons have failed. Last year alone, Somalia’s drought claimed the lives of 40,000 individuals, with half of them being young children, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
David Milliband, President of the International Rescue Committee, highlighted the destructive consequences of the drought, including the loss of three million livestock—a crucial source of livelihood for many in the region. Milliband also attributed the increased likelihood of drought in the area to man-made climate change, estimating that the risk has risen by 100 times.
The UN estimates that over 43 million people in the Horn of Africa are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with more than 32 million facing acute food insecurity.
During the conference, Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN, emphasized the necessity for bold intervention in the complex humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa. Nusseibeh underscored the UAE’s strong partnership with the countries in the region, highlighting their contribution of $1.6 billion in aid over the past five years. The UAE has already allocated $20 million this year alone to support humanitarian and stabilization programs in Somalia, emphasizing the importance of long-term resilience-building initiatives within communities.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ top envoy to the UN, announced an additional humanitarian aid package of nearly $524 million for the Horn of Africa. This brings the total US contribution for fiscal year 2023 to $1.4 billion. Thomas-Greenfield stressed that entire communities should never face starvation, calling it the “ultimate failure of the international community.” She also appealed to the global community for increased support, acknowledging that the crisis cannot be addressed by the US alone.
The shortfall in funding at the UN donor conference raises concerns about the ongoing drought crisis in the Horn of Africa. Urgent action and increased support are required to prevent further suffering and save lives in the region.