UN envoy Keating visits Hiiraan region, appeals for humanitarian intervention to mitigate devastating drought
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia Michael Keating visited Belet Weyne on Thursday, to assess the impact of the drought in Hiiraan region.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), livestock prices have declined, resulting in low purchasing power of most families.
It is estimated that 180,000 people in Hiiraan region are at risk of starvation due to food insecurity. The most affected areas are locations in Bulo Burto, Jalalaqsi and Belet Weyne, all of which have received no rainfall in the past two seasons. During his visit, SRSG Keating met with key local leaders and also visited the livestock market, where he appealed for urgent humanitarian intervention, to save thousands of lives and livestock from imminent starvation.
“The UN will partner with you. You have to lead this effort but we will partner with you, to try and prevent this drought from turning into a catastrophe,” Keating told the local leaders, after interacting with livestock traders at the market.
Hiiraan Governor Ali Jeyte Osman highlighted key challenges facing the region. "They include drought, conflict, lack of education and healthcare facilities; and water scarcity,” he told SRSG Keating.
The SRSG promised UN support to affected populations, but emphasized local intervention as well. “I hope you will be asking your new members of parliament what they are going to do for Hiiraan, what they are doing about the drought,” he noted.
SRSG Keating called for a stop to inter-clan fighting that has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 6,000 people in the region, in the last two months.
He urged civil society leaders to work with clan elders to foster dialogue and reconciliation between clans.
“The formation of HirShabelle (state) has not been easy, but it represents an opportunity and we will try and support the new administration to do what it wants to, which is to deliver services to the people,” he said.
SRSG Keating also met with the Hiiraan local community leader Ugaas Hassan Ugas Khalif.