‘Crisis atop Crisis’ Threatening Millions of Lives in Horn of Africa, Secretary-General Tells Pledging Event, Calling for Increased Humanitarian Aid to Prevent Catastrophe

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks, as delivered, at the Horn of Africa Pledging event, in New York today: 

I thank the Governments of Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the United States for convening this important meeting in collaboration with the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

Crisis atop of crisis is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions across the Horn of Africa:  The longest drought on record.  Mass displacement after years of conflict and insecurity.  Skyrocketing food prices.  And now, chaos and fighting have engulfed Sudan, radiating instability across the entire region.

We must act now to prevent crisis from turning into catastrophe. Make no mistake:  action will make all the difference.  Last year, thanks to generous support from donor countries, we delivered life-saving assistance to 20 million people.  And we helped avert a famine.  Now, support must match the scale of the challenge.  I call on donors and the international community to urgently fund the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plans for the region.  To date, they are just close to 20 per cent funded.  And this is unacceptable. 

Without an immediate and major injection of funding, emergency operations will grind to a halt and people will die.  According to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), last year’s drought in Somalia claimed 40,000 lives.  Half were children under five.

And while recent rains have brought a measure of much-needed relief, vulnerable communities face another year of terrible hardship.  People in the Horn of Africa are paying an unconscionable price for a climate crisis they did nothing to cause.

We owe them solidarity.  We owe them assistance.  And we owe them a measure of hope for the future.  This means immediate action to secure their survival.  And it means sustained action to help communities across the Horn adapt and build resilience to climate change.

I recently visited both Kenya and Somalia.  I saw first-hand the devastating impact of consecutive failed rainy seasons.  Today, over 30 million people across the region need humanitarian assistance.  In parts of northern Kenya, parched landscapes and perished livestock have driven families from their homes in search of water, food, and incomes.

In Baidoa, Somalia, I met communities who lost their livelihoods to drought and insecurity.  I was deeply moved by their struggles.  And I was inspired by their resilience, courage, and determination to rebuild their lives.

But they cannot do it alone.  At this moment of difficulty and danger for the people of the Horn of Africa we cannot stand idly by.  Let us act together now — with greater urgency and far greater support.

For information media. Not an official record.