A UN donor conference to help fund aid operations for drought stricken Horn of Africa raised on Wednesday about $1 billion – far below the $7 billion the world body was seeking.
The UN humanitarian body said in a statement that “famine has been averted” thanks to the funds, but additional resources were urgently required to assist nearly 32 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia who are facing acute food insecurity and the most severe drought in four decades.
With the latest pledges and the $1.4 billion the UN had already received from the US, it brings the total to about $2.4 billion.
Speaking at the onset of the donor conference in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said only 20 per cent of the UN's regional humanitarian response plan had been financed to date.
“This is unacceptable,” Mr Guterres stated, underscoring the need for immediate action to prevent the crisis that is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions across the region.
The UN chief warned that without an immediate, “major injection” of funding, emergency operations will “grind to a halt” and people will die.
Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have borne the brunt of the devastating drought, resulting in five consecutive failed rainy seasons.
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, said man-made climate change has increased the likelihood of drought in the region by 100 times.
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN, told delegates the Horn of Africa's “complex” humanitarian situation requires “bold intervention”.
Ms Nusseibeh highlighted the UAE's “strong partnership” with the countries in the region, which involves direct and indirect humanitarian support, with the Emirates contributing $1.6 billion in aid to the region over the past five years.
This year alone, she said, the UAE has allocated $20 million to assist with humanitarian and stabilisation programmes in Somalia, and stressed that her country remains committed to a “multifaceted approach” to the region and the importance of long-term resilience-building initiatives within communities.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Washington’s top envoy to the UN, announced an additional humanitarian aid package of nearly $524 million for the Horn of Africa, bringing the total US contribution for fiscal year 2023 to $1.4 billion.
“In a world abundant with food, entire communities should never, never starve to death,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that the UN had raised $2.4 billion through the donor drive.