UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday visited a camp for internally displaced people in Baidoa, in Somalia’s southwest.
Speaking through a translator, Guterres sat down with some of the displaced to hear their concerns.
The UN chief arrived in Somalia on Tuesday on what he termed as a ‘solidarity visit’.
“Well, first of all, I am encouraged by the fact that we have now the capacity that the Somalis have developed to start increasing their possibility to liberate areas in relation to Shabaab, they have done it already other parts of the territory. I hope they will be able to do it also here,” Guterres said.
Over a million people have been displaced in Somalia by a drought which has led to near famine conditions and an Islamist inurgency waged by Al shabaab.
“What has been dramatic is five consecutive years of drought. The people I met have lost their livestock, they’ve lost their property, they have lost everything, so this combination of terrorism and drought largely caused by the climate change creates a perfect storm for the people of Somalia and requires massive support from the international community,” remarked Guterres.
The United Nations has launched a $2.6 billion call for humanitarian assistance, but Guterres said the appeal was only 15 percent funded.
While famine thresholds have not been reached in Somalia, the UN says about half its population will need humanitarian assistance this year, with 8.3 million affected by the drought.