British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrived in Somalia on Wednesday morning for an unannounced meeting with the new Somali president. "This drought is really serious, and so far we have lost 60 percent of our livestock", he said.
Drought threatens millions of people in the Horn of Africa nation, which recently declared a national disaster amid warnings of a full-blown starvation.
He said: "As a father of four, it hurts to see children without food and water, but this is a reality being faced by parents in East Africa right now". I heard about their plans and priorities and we discussed how we can work together to improve security and deliver the economic development that Somalia needs to improve the lives of all its people.
After his recent visit to Somalia, U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said 2.9 million people are at risk of starvation and require immediate help. But this time the U.N.'s humanitarian partners have a larger footprint, better controls on resources and a stronger partnership with the new government, he said. "We discussed a number of issues, including how Britain can help the Somali government to avert the looming starvation". "But we need those huge funds now".
The drought also affects millions of people in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, where the government recently declared a national disaster for about half of its counties.
Nigel Tricks, Oxfam's Horn of Africa regional director, said Wednesday that "the window is short in which we can still avert a famine" in the regional crisis.
Britain will host a conference on Somalia in May, where the global community and donors are to discuss security and rebuilding the country.
A Somali official speaking on condition of anonymity tells Newsweek that Johnson conveyed to the Somali president that the United Kingdom would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Somalia in areas including security and response to the drought. It also pledged a similar amount to South Sudan similarly facing a devastating starvation.
Mr Johnson also saw demonstrations of the training provided by the British military in the country.
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