Irish aid organizations plead for help as UN chief ‘deeply shocked’ by looming famine

Irish aid organizations are pleading for urgent help for the people of Somalia after the UN warned today that “famine is coming”.

Visiting the drought-stricken country, UN Head of Emergency Affairs Martin Griffiths said what he saw was “a final warning to all of us”.

“I have been deeply shocked by the level of pain and suffering over the past few days,” he said.

His visit comes just days after the experts meeting at the Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum in the Greater Horn of Africa, which concluded that all indications were that drought would persist in the region.

Rainfall has been absent for the past four seasons and October through December rains are now expected to be absent or greatly reduced from those previously expected.

Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are all affected, although Somalia has had the worst impact so far.

Foreign Aid Minister Colm Brophy, who visited northern Kenya last week, expressed grave concern at what he witnessed at the child malnutrition clinics there.

He said it was “urgent that the international community intervene to avert what could become a great, great famine.”

Aid agency Concern said that for over a year there had been repeated warnings from local authorities, governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations that the effects of the drought were worsening and hunger was rising.

“Hunger means failure. That means the world didn’t prevent it, despite all the warnings,” said Dominic MacSorely, CEO of Concern.

Concern had already expanded its efforts across the region, providing urgently needed communities with food, cash and water.

But Mr MacSorley said a formal declaration of hunger meant action was needed on a much larger scale.

“Over 250,000 people died in the last famine in Somalia in 2011, and at least half of them were children, many of them dying before official declaration,” he said.

Trocaire’s chief executive, Caoimhe de Barra, who is in Somalia, also appealed to the Irish public and government for help.

“What has been predicted for months is happening and we are on the verge of dousing a famine,” she said.

“This crisis did not come without warning and is the result of repeated failure to learn from the past. It is a damning indictment of rich countries that failed to act.” Irish aid organizations plead for help as UN chief ‘deeply shocked’ by looming famine

Fry Electronics Team

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