Nearly 32 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia will benefit from emergency aid thanks to donations and pledges from countries and international organizations, welcomed the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday 24 May. the outcome of a conference in New York co-organized with Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Thanks to the 2.4 billion dollars (about 2.23 billion euros) raised, “famine has been averted”, proclaimed in a press release, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), even if the international organization hoped to raise much more money.

To protect the inhabitants of this region of East Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan), 7 billion dollars are needed. The situation remains serious: “Additional resources are urgently needed to avoid a return to a worst-case scenario,” the UN warned.

“The Threat Remains”

The funds will enable humanitarian workers to deliver food, water and provide care and medical protection for populations. But Andrew Mitchell, UK Foreign Secretary for Development and Africa, warned: “The threat [of famine] continues, and we must act now to prevent further suffering.”

At the opening of this donors’ conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres solemnly urged the international community to help raise funds to prevent “people from dying” of starvation. He said he wanted to “prevent a crisis from turning into a disaster”, arguing that in 2022 donor countries for the Horn of Africa had made it possible to “deliver emergency aid to 20 million people and help avert a famine.”

For Somalia alone, the UN chief reported that “last year drought claimed 40,000 lives, half of them children under the age of 5”. And in this East African country, since the start of 2023 more than a million people have been displaced by armed conflict, floods or drought, increasing the risk of famine, according to the agency. the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

In Somalia, with a population of around 17 million, more than 3.8 million are displaced “aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation, where some 6.7 million people are struggling to meet their food needs”, insisted in a statement in Nairobi these two humanitarian organizations. More than half a million children are severely malnourished, they say.

“One of the worst climate emergencies on the planet”

Moreover, Antonio Guterres insisted, the “people of the Horn of Africa are paying an insane price for a climate crisis that they in no way caused”. This region is even, OCHA insisted, “the epicenter of one of the worst climate emergencies on the planet”. For the UN chief, it is “climate chaos [which] causes deadly floods and droughts and contributes to the risk of famine”.

In fact, the historic drought affecting the Horn of Africa is the unprecedented combination of a lack of rain and high temperatures which could not have occurred without human emissions of greenhouse gases, demonstrated in a study, published at the end of April, the World Weather Attribution (WWA), global network of scientists. Since the end of 2020, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan have been experiencing drought the likes of which they have not seen in forty years.

Before the end of the New York conference on Wednesday evening, Islamic Relief Worldwide, a non-governmental organization founded in the United Kingdom by Muslims outraged by the famine in Africa, had urged donors to “step up their ‘shameful’ response to world’s biggest hunger crisis. Especially since “Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya produce only 0.1% of global carbon emissions, while their populations pay the highest price for climate change”.