Somalia’s new president appealed to the international community Thursday to help his nation avert an approaching famine. “Almost half of my people are facing acute food shortages and about 15 percent are facing famine,” President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, told the U.N. Security Council. “I am truly saddened by this situation, as the Somali people are proud, generous, hardworking and truly resilient,” he said via a video link from Nairobi. “They would have been the last to ask for assistance if they could somehow find a way to survive and beat their reality.”
The president, who took office last month, said people walk for hours in search of food and water. Many livestock have died during a severe drought, taking both sustenance and livelihoods away from the population. Cholera is also on the rise and the rainy season is approaching. Somalia knows too well the consequences of drought and famine; more than 260,000 people died in the last famine, which hit the country in 2011. Currently more than 6 million people need assistance, and an international appeal for $825 million is only 30 percent funded.
Farmajo noted that this time Somalia is equipped with a government willing to step up to deal with the situation. He noted that the prime minister named his Cabinet on Tuesday, and he said he was optimistic that the parliament would support it so work could begin to tackle the drought. The food crisis is not the nascent government’s only challenge. “Achieving sustainable peace requires more than physical security,” the president cautioned. “We must invest in education, jobs and skills to overcome the many challenges Somalia faces.” He said this would be critical in efforts to stem radicalization by extremists.