UNHCR chief urges help for Somali drought 'tragedy'
UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres urged more international help Friday for thousands of Somalis affected by a severe drought, calling their plight the world's worst humanitarian tragedy.Updated: Jul 09, 2011 14:42 IST
UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres urged more international help Friday for thousands of Somalis affected by a severe drought, calling their plight the world's worst humanitarian tragedy.
Food shortages and violence have forced Somalis into neighbouring countries to seek relief from one of the region's worst droughts in decades.
"My main objective is to appeal to the international community to engage more actively in support of the Somali population that is suffering so much," Guterres said after visiting camps hosting Somali refugees in Ethiopia.
"I have no doubt that if there is a population that is today suffering the worst humanitarian tragedy it is the Somalian population."
Somalia has been the worst affected country in the drought-hit Horn of Africa region owing to the persistent violence since a civil war erupted there two decades ago.
About 1,700 Somalis are arriving daily in southeast Ethiopia, while in neighbouring Kenya about 1,400 each day reach the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp, according to the UN refugee agency.
The European Union on Wednesday announced it will provide 5.67 million euros to help millions of people in the Horn of Africa affected by the drought.
The aid brought to almost 70 million euros the bloc's contribution to assistance for the millions of drought victims in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti.
Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels who two years ago banned foreign aid groups in areas under their control appealed for help and pledged to allow aid through to the population in their fiefdoms.
"If that can happen it would be very much welcome," Guterres told reporters in Addis Ababa.
"If access can be granted and people can be supported wherever they are that of course is a very important thing." Guterres was in Ethiopia to assess the effect of the drought. On Saturday he will visit Kenya.