NEW YORK - Somalia's special envoy to the United Nations sought Wednesday to draw attention to the gravity of the crisis in his destitute country in order to mobilise more aid.
"We are here to lobby, to bring your attention to the magnitude of this crisis, the level of humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia," said Mr Abdirahman Abdishakur.
During meetings with UN agencies and member states since the beginning of the week, Mr Abdishakur has repeated that there is still "a huge gap" between the promised aid and Somalia's current financial needs.
The UN said at the end of August it received 67 per cent of its US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion) aid target for Somalia. But with a fifth consecutive failed rainy season forecast in the fall, the amount needed will increase.
"If there is not enough humanitarian response… the famine will happen," Mr Abdishakur warned.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said last week that Somalia is on the brink of famine for the second time in just over a decade. He said the situation was worse than the famine in 2011, when 260,000 people died, more than half of them children under the age of six.
"We have a very narrow window to save lives," Mr Griffiths warned, speaking alongside Mr Abdishakur at the UN headquarters in New York. "People are dying today."
And children are being hit hardest. The number of children aged six months to five years suffering from severe malnutrition has shot up from 389,000 to 513,000, according to figures released Tuesday by Unicef. AFP