UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “sounded the alarm” and called for “massive international support” in Somalia during a visit today to the Horn of Africa country plagued by an Islamist insurgency and a drought of historic proportions.

“I am also here to raise the alarm about the need for massive international support: massive international support because of the humanitarian difficulties facing the country, massive humanitarian support in relation to strengthening security capabilities in Somalia and massive humanitarian support for stabilization and the development of the country,” he noted at a press conference he gave together with Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Guterres arrived in Somalia this morning for a short “solidarity visit” to mark the month of Ramadan, during which he is expected to meet with political figures and visit a displaced persons camp, according to local media.

Somalia, like its neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia, is facing a drought unprecedented in at least 40 years, which followed five consecutive periods of extreme rainfall that wiped out livestock and crops and forced at least 1,700 people to leave their homes in search of water and food.

The UN has appealed to raise $2.6 billion in humanitarian aid for Somalia. “I call on donors and call on the international community to step up their support to urgently fund the 2023 humanitarian response plan, which has so far been 15% funded,” Guterres underlined.

About half the country’s population will need humanitarian aid this year, as 8.3 million people have been affected by drought, according to the UN.

“The president and I discussed the government’s valuable efforts in the fight against terrorism and progress towards peace and security for all,” Guterres added.

Somalia is one of the poorest countries on the planet and has been facing for more than 15 years an insurgency by the Islamist Shebaab, linked to Al Qaeda.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who returned to power in May 2022, vowed last year to wage “total war” against the Islamist Shebab and sent troops in September to support an operation against the Shebab by local militias in the central part of the country.

“This visit testifies to the full commitment of the UN in supporting our plans for state-building and stability in the country,” noted the president of Somalia, stating that he is confident that the Somali people will be able to overcome the difficulties and obstacles that still face them. to deal with the completion of the country’s liberation and reconciliation”.