UN chief says seeking further $900 mln for Somalia crisis response

"We will not stand by and watch millions of already vulnerable men, women, and children become victims of an avoidable catastrophe", said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies.

He said political stability has improved but the gains are fragile in part because of growing food insecurity.

LONDON — Somalia's president on Thursday called for an end to the arms embargo on his long-chaotic country, saying that if the military doesn't have more sophisticated equipment in the fight against the al-Shabab extremist group, "definitely this war will continue for another 10 years".

The UN is seeking a further 900 million dollars this year for Somalia, where more than six million people need humanitarian assistance and 275,000 malnourished children are at risk of starvation.

"Somalia now hangs in the balance between peril and potential", Guterres said.

Somalia is also facing new military interest from the United States, as President Donald Trump has approved expanded operations, including airstrikes, against al-Shabab.

Save the Children chief Keven Watkins said the African country "continues to drift toward an avoidable starvation".

"We want Somalia to rise again", she said.

He added: "Restoring Somalia's relations with the World Bank, cancelling the country's debt, and providing immediate financial support from the World Bank's global development association facility is critical".

Guterres stressed that the Somali people have suffered a deadly combination of chronic drought, endemic poverty, forced displacement and violence, the latter characterized in recent years by terrorist attacks, especially of the Al Shabaab terror group.

U.S. forces also assist Somali troops in operations against Shabaab, and last week a Navy SEAL was killed during a night-time raid outside Mogadishu.

Restoring security is top of the conference agenda.

Britain is hosting a high-level conference to address the deepening humanitarian crisis and security situation in Somalia. Britain has an embassy in Mogadishu and has also sent an army team of 70 personnel to support Somali security forces and AU mission.

May said Somalia now had a "critical window of opportunity" under Farmajo to take control of its own security and build its economic capacity.

"If the current situation continues, starvation could soon be a reality, creating a devastating cycle of hunger and disease as the health of people deteriorates and they become more susceptible to infection", WHO warned.

According to United Nations, drought in Somalia led to the destruction of crops and livestock, leaving more than 3.3 million people hungry every day.

  • Aubrey Nash