US announces $524 million for Horn of Africa drought, climate change crisis

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The United States announced at a UN conference on Wednesday nearly $524 million in additional humanitarian aid for the Horn of Africa that aims to put a spotlight on the extreme effects of climate change and the worst drought in the region in 40 years — and the need for more than $5 billion.

Near the start of the conference, Germany announced a pledge of 210 million euros ($226 million) and the United Kingdom pledged $119 million for Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

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The UN has appealed for $7 billion and has received just $1.6 billion — far from enough to help the 43.3 million people in need of assistance in the three Horn of Africa countries or even just the 21 million among them who don’t have access to enough food.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told would-be donors at the conference to make an immediate and major injection of funding to prevent the crisis caused by drought, mass displacement after years of conflict and skyrocketing food prices “from turning into catastrophe.”

The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to the region, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told the pledging conference that the $524 million in new funds will bring the total US humanitarian contribution to the region to $1.4 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Germany’s UN Ambassador Antje Leendertse told the conference the 210 million euros in humanitarian aid for the three countries doesn’t include substantial funding “for development and stabilization” in the Horn of Africa.

UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said the country’s total pledge on Wednesday also includes $27 million for Sudan, $23 million for South Sudan and $9 million for Uganda, taking it up to $178 million.

When America’s Thomas-Greenfield visited the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in September, she said she heard firsthand “how the drought impacted the food supply and the increased potential for famine” and announced more than $40 million in additional funding for the country.

“Sadly, the humanitarian needs in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are now greater than ever with over 23.5 million persons facing acute food insecurity,” she said in a statement. “That’s why the United States is continuing to support the humanitarian response in the Horn with this new funding.”

The US said its new funding will support refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people, and millions affected by conflict, drought and food insecurity. It said nearly $108 million of the additional funding is from the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $416 million is from the US Agency for International Development.

The humanitarian agency CARE said the crisis in the region resulting from two failed rainy seasons, two locust invasions, conflict and rising commodity prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war has decimated communities and led to the migration of more than 2.5 million people. Raising livestock used to be a key way of earning money for many communities in the region, but CARE said due to the extreme weather more than 13.2 million livestock have died.

In Somalia, where more than 6 million people are going hungry, a famine has yet to be declared, but some humanitarian and climate officials have warned that current trends are worse than in the 2011 famine, in which 250,000 people died.

Parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing flooding during the ongoing rainy season, and millions of people have been displaced. The affected areas, mostly occupied by herders, had seen prolonged dry seasons that left livestock dead.

Read more:

Global warming made Horn of Africa drought possible

Famine still stalks Somalia

At least 14 people killed in Somalia flash floods

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