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The backstory: Climate change is wreaking havoc in northwest Africa. According to the UN, the Horn of Africa region is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, the result of five seasons with poor rain. Over 43.3 million people are suffering because of this crisis in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, with more than half in need of food. A famine hasn’t been declared yet, but that doesn’t mean that food is easy to come by in the region. The drought has reportedly destroyed millions of livestock, which drives the livelihoods for many people living in the region.
More recently: This week, the UN held a pledging conference to raise money to help the Horn of Africa get through this crisis. Humanitarian organizations are supporting this drive, saying that time is running out to get communities in the region the resources they need to survive. Before the event, humanitarian missions there were less than 20% funded. It’s trying to raise about US$7 billion, and so far had only gotten about US$1.6 billion. So, at this pledging conference, the UN was hoping to raise about US$5 billion more.
The development: On Wednesday, the UN received pledges totaling less than a billion of that US$5 billion goal. That means only US$800 million in new funding was raised, with the US donating US$524 million of it alone. The European Commission pledged US$185 million, Germany US$163 million, the UK US$120 million, and the Netherlands US$92 million.
That brings the total raised so far in the effort to US$2.4 billion for 2023. While 25 countries actually made announcements to pledge funding, some of those pledges were for 2024 and later. But, this money is needed ASAP to stave off famine and help people now.
“Efforts to combat food insecurity need to be urgently scaled up across a wider group of governments, international financial institutions and climate actors,” said the International Rescue Committee’s chief executive, David Miliband.
"People in the Horn of Africa are paying an unconscionable price for a climate crisis they did nothing to cause," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the pledging event in New York on Wednesday. "Crisis atop of crisis is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions across the Horn of Africa: The longest drought on record. Mass displacement after years of conflict and insecurity. Skyrocketing food prices.”
"We must adapt to the impacts of climate change and build more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems around the world. And we must support humanitarian workers and NGOs that dedicate their lives to saving lives," said US Ambassador to the UNs Linda Thomas-Greenfield.