UK: Guterres urges international help for Somalia to rebuild security, avert famine

London, UK (PANA) - Opening a major conference on Somalia, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged the international community to support security efforts in Somalia and aid the more than six million Somalis affected by violence and a deadly drought.

“We are here to listen to Somalia's leadership and to agree on a framework for cooperation,” Guterres told heads of State and Government from across East Africa and other key partners at the opening of the London Somalia Conference 2017 on Thursday.

He noted that the Horn of Africa country is at a moment which is both “tragic and hopeful” and “can be in the near future the kind of good news that we badly need” in the world.

A legitimate Federal Government was established in 2012 in Somalia, and Al-Shabaab insurgent group was pushed out of several key cities of the country by the UN Security Council-mandated African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

Mr. Guterres noted  that fighting continues to devastate the country, with violations of human rights and international humanitarian law occurring with impunity.

He highlighted the need for predictable funding for AMISOM, and suggested the possibility of assessed contributions. The AU force was created 2012 and began fighting before it had helicopters, night vision systems or armoured vehicles.

“This is something that we need to solve to give AMISOM the capacity to really create the conditions to allow the Government and the new security institutions of Somalia to then be able to assume the responsibility of the security of their own country,” he said.

Mr. Guterres also called for greater coordination in support of the Somali Government to build up the Somali National Army and the Somali Police to create the conditions for a unified national army and a unified police front.

Somalia is facing prolonged drought which has left more than half of its population in need of humanitarian assistance. The situation continues to deteriorate and the possibility of famine in 2017 remains very real, despite an already massive scale-up of assistance since the beginning of the year.

The ongoing conflict is exacerbating the drought, leading to what could be one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.

In his remarks, Mr. Guterres called for an additional US$900 million to aid the 6.2 million people whose crops have withered, livestock has died and waterholes have dried up.

Some 275,000 malnourished Somali children are currently at risk of starvation, according to UN figures.

“If there is an image that I will never forget in my life it is [the one] of children dying already, where they could [have been] assisted because they just arrived too late,” Mr. Guterres said speaking at an event on a response to the humanitarian crisis.

The UN chief had travelled two months ago to the capital, Mogadishu, and Baidoa, in the south-western Bay region, to ask the people in Somalia if they were receiving aid and to appeal for more support from the international community.

“Somalia now hangs in the balance between peril and potential. Here in London, we can tip the scales from danger to safety,” said Mr. Guterres.
-0- PANA AR 11May2017

11 may 2017 18:22:23

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