NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 27 (IPS) – Last week, when world leaders gathered in New York for the 77th United Nations General Assembly, one topic came up above all: hunger looms. Arab. That’s because despite a global commitment to make hunger a relic of the past, it’s knocking on our doors once again.
In Somaliland two weeks ago, I watched communities pass their breaking point. The grandparents there told me they could not recall a drought like this in their lifetime.
At UNGA, I am honored to participate in many discussions on this and other topics – especially a workshop on urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa. The region is facing a number of interrelated problems, including hunger, conflict, climate, and COVID-19. As we discuss – and more importantly, respond to – the crisis, we should keep three themes in mind: the urgency of the moment, the need for more access and funding, and the implementation of a solution. system law.
The humanitarian crisis in Horn needs to be at the top of the international agenda and we need commitment, resources and urgent action. We have been seeing warning signs of an impending famine for quite some time – and now we have been warned that it could be announced in Somalia as soon as next month.
Normally, the international community reacts to crises, but this time we must also be proactive in assessing and responding to the needs of the region. During my trip to Somaliland, I spoke with farmers, herders and visited communities affected by conflict, climate and COVID-19. This was my first visit back to Somaliland in over 20 years which provided an interesting perspective on the arc of change.
Their shared experience is clear: their livelihoods and ways of life – and those of their ancestors – are in jeopardy and the need to act now is more urgent than ever. The worry is that these preventable tragedies continue to be repeated as the world has the resources and know-how to prevent them.
I spoke to Safia, a 38-year-old divorced mother of eight children who has lost 90% of her herd. She stays as long as she can in her community until she feels unsafe because herds of sick and dead livestock attract hyenas at night, forcing her to make the five-day journey to the camp. Dur-Dur IDP (Missing Person) near Burao.
At Dur Dur, they are greeted with clean water, some food and materials to build a shelter. She and her children have been there for about three months. They are struggling to get enough food and can eat one meal a day, if they can. Oxfam and others are providing support, but it’s not nearly enough to meet their basic needs.
Safia’s experience is just one of countless people bearing the brunt of the global dual hunger and climate crisis caused by distant forces that are prioritizing profits over people and the planet.
This early year, Oxfam research estimates that one person dies from acute starvation every 48 seconds in the region. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. We have a limited chance to stave off hunger in the horns. It is not too late to prevent disaster, but much needs to be done immediately.
We know that action is expected to save lives, livelihoods and scarce aid, and across Oxfam and with our partners, we’ve sounded the alarm about it. this slow-onset, local emergency at the local, national and global levels over the past two years. However, we are witnessing a system that is failing those least responsible during this crisis.
We need more access and more funding to support frontline organizations and leaders. During the workshop, it was encouraging to hear from Second Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Martin Griffiths emphasis on funding local organizations and leaders who have knowledge knowledge, accessibility and courage to make a real impact.
Local organizations know where the most vulnerable people are, they can reach disaster areas quickly, and they understand the languages, cultures, geography and political realities of affected communities influence much better than those outside.
These local leaders need to be provided with the resources and space to make decisions that will deliver the most effective responses to save lives now and in the long term. This could mean that international donors and organizations need to be more flexible in how they coordinate, fund and deliver the humanitarian response. The old way may not be the most effective – in fact, we know it doesn’t – especially where there are access challenges.
Ultimately, we must take a systematic approach to solving these problems. We know that hunger, climate and conflict don’t happen in bunkers – they are inextricably linked. We must ensure that we are fighting together against these interconnected crises, especially hunger and climate.
Climate change is causing more extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heat waves, devastating crops and displacing vulnerable communities. In reality, Famine has more than doubled in the 10 worst climate hotspots in recent years.
The countries that contribute the least to emissions are suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis, while fossil fuel companies post record profits. Less than 18 days of profits from fossil fuel companies could pay for the United Nations’ $48.82 billion humanitarian appeal for 2022.
These conversations and summons are important, but we must do more than raise the alarm – we must see action to monitor them. I hope that leaders reiterate the political will to fulfill their moral obligation to face this crisis in Horn’s mind.
Safia is doing all she can to ensure her family’s survival – we must see leaders do all in their power, right now, to ensure her and millions others get the urgent help they need now to survive, and see their right to a secure, healthy future recognized and realized in the years to come.
Abby Maxman is the President and CEO of Oxfam America.
IPS UN Office
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