With 32 million people struggling from drought and conflict, donors at UN-backed event announce US$2.4 billion to support people in the Horn of Africa
(24 May 2023, New York) With the Horn of Africa facing the combined impacts of a historic drought, conflict and economic shocks, donors at a United Nations-backed event today announced US$2.4 billion to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance for nearly 32 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
Famine has been averted, thanks in part to the tremendous efforts of local communities, humanitarian organizations and authorities, as well as the support of donors. In the face of five consecutive poor rainy seasons, more than 30 million people received assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
But the emergency is far from over, and additional resources are urgently required to prevent a return to the worst-case scenario.
Today’s pledges were made at a high-level event held in New York, co-hosted by the United Nations, Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States, in collaboration with the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
The humanitarian community requires $7 billion for humanitarian response and protection for drought- and conflict-affected people in the region in 2023.
The funds announced today will allow humanitarian agencies to sustain aid pipelines of food, water, health care, nutrition and protection services.
“We welcome the announcements of support for the people of the Horn of Africa, who need our sustained commitment to recover from a crisis of catastrophic proportions,” said Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. “We must persist in pushing for stepped-up investments, especially to bolster the resilience of people already bearing the brunt of climate change.”
The Horn of Africa is the epicentre of one of the world’s worst climate emergencies. An estimated 43,000 people died in 2022 in Somalia, most likely due to the drought, half of whom may have been children under age 5. Millions remain displaced because of drought as well as conflict.
Today’s event was held as improved rains are starting to ease the impacts of the drought, but they also bring new risks and challenges. Floods have already caused widespread damage and affected at least 900,000 people. More flooding is expected later this year, partly due to the forecasted El Niño phenomenon, potentially leading to further displacement, death and disease.
Despite the relief brought by the rains, it will take years to recover from the historic drought. Representatives from non-governmental organizations, Member States and experts debated solutions, ranging from long-term investment in people and infrastructure to alternative ways for people to earn a living and adapt to climate change.
“Now more than ever, as global humanitarian needs soar, our action cannot be merely limited to meeting the most immediate needs but should also be tailored to finding solutions and prevent a further deterioration,” stressed Antonio Tajani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. “The international community must invest further in the link between humanitarian and development action as a way to ensure that interventions on the ground have both immediate effects as well as durable benefits.”
The UK Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, said, “A unified international effort helped to narrowly avert famine in 2022, but we can be anything but complacent. The clear and present threat remains, and we must act now to prevent further suffering.
“Funding pledged today will help millions, but we must work together to break the cycle of crisis afflicting so many States. Without effective governance there can be no truly sustainable development.”
The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, “Today’s pledge brings the total US humanitarian assistance for the response to the region to more than $1.4 billion in FY 2023 and is anchored in the most essential of American values – that we have a responsibility to help others in need when we are able.”
Qatar’s Ambassador to the UN, Sheikha Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani, said, “The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis resulting from the drought in the three countries of the Horn of Africa requires our urgent attention and our moral and humanitarian responsibility to alleviate the suffering of the people in the region.
“The State of Qatar remains firmly committed to standing in strong solidarity through its consistent humanitarian support. We urge all Member States to fulfil their moral obligation by contributing to the realization of food security in the region and globally.”