The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has wrapped up a visit to Kenya and Somalia, again voicing concern that attention needs to be focused on the recurring droughts that have deprived millions of citizens in the two African nations of their livelihoods.
“In the past three days, I have had an opportunity to see for myself the devastation and impact of conflict and climate-related disasters on people in Kenya and Somalia,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said in Nairobi, at the end of her visit.
Amos pointed out that the floods in Pakistan and the earthquake in Haiti, while dramatic and devastating, overlook the continuing crises that the African people suffer every day.
“The world needs to continue to pay attention to what is happening in this part of the world,” Ms. Amos said. “We must always make sure that people understand the human impact of these crises. Behind every statistic, there is a human face.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 1.6 million Kenyans are suffering from varying measures of drought related hardship, primarily those living in arid and semi-arid areas in the northern and eastern regions of the country.
While next door in Somalia, a total of 2.4 million people are suffering as a result of long-term insecurity and drought, and the situation is expected only to worsen before the onset of the next rainy season in April of this year.
Ms. Amos highlighted the need for preparedness and early action as primary focuses of any strategy that focuses on responding to humanitarian emergencies throughout her visit.
“I have also had an opportunity to speak to colleagues and partners about the importance of working together to tackle the vulnerability and risk that exist in the region,” the humanitarian chief said. “Ultimately, our collective success depends on our ability to give assistance to people in need and help them to develop long-term sustainable solutions to the challenges they face.”