Drought "most pressing priority" in Somalia: UN chief

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the London Somalia Conference 2017. Photo: Somalia Conference 2017

UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for additional assistance to address the drought in Somalia, describing it as "the most pressing priority."

He made the appeal at an international conference for the Horn of Africa country on Thursday, in London, the capital of the United Kingdom.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo and other Heads of State and Government are at the meeting to discuss prospects for peace and security in Somalia, as well as boosting humanitarian aid.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

The United Nations is seeking an additional US $900 million until the end of the year under the Humanitarian Response Appeal for Somalia, the Secretary-General announced at the opening of the London Conference.

A severe drought is affecting more than six million people in the country, or roughly half the population, and some 275,000 malnourished children are at risk of starvation.

Here's António Guterres:

"The drought is the most pressing priority. This morning, we presented a revised Humanitarian Response Plan seeking an additional $900 million through the end of the year. We also need to address the damage caused by climate change and conflict."

The UN chief also urged Somalia's partners to support the nation's first development agenda in 35 years and commended the Government for its commitment to progressively create and strengthen the institutions of a true State.

The World Health Organization (WHO) joined Wednesday's chorus of voices by releasing a statement calling for additional support from the international community to avoid a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Somalia.

The agency said it was concerned by the "chronic shortage of funding for live-saving work in Somalia" in response to the ongoing drought that has led to the destruction of crops and livestock.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″

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