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SG/SM/21473

In Message to Side Event, Secretary-General Says Horn of Africa Facing Humanitarian Catastrophe, Calls for Urgent Action

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the side event on urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa, held today:

Hunger is overwhelming the Horn of Africa.  Millions across Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are confronting the worst drought in nearly half a century.  Four rainy seasons have failed to materialize — and now a fifth will likely fail, too.

Starvation is already a terrible reality for many — and famine looms.  Humanitarian colleagues on the ground describe a hellish landscape of suffering and pain:  children so malnourished they are too weak to even cry; millions of animals dead by the wayside next to barren fields; and the price of food at local markets is at record highs.

It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of the unfolding disaster.  But, if we act now, we can prevent the worst.  I call on you to take three urgent actions:  First, fully fund all aspects of the emergency response — from food, health care and nutrition, to water and sanitation services.  Most people in a hunger crisis die from sickness and disease.

Second, support local aid groups who can reach the most vulnerable populations.  And third, urge all parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law and ensure safe and unimpeded access to people in need.

Looking ahead, we must dramatically scale up investments in climate adaptation and better support people in their transition to new livelihoods.  The people in the Horn of Africa are staring into the abyss of humanitarian catastrophe.  Let us act now – with greater urgency, in greater solidarity.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.