Ban talks with rock star Bono on mobilizing aid for famine-wracked Horn of Africa

11 August 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed the need to mobilize international resources to counter famine in the Horn of Africa with Irish rock star Bono, a leader of the multi-partner Campaign ONE, which fights extreme poverty and preventable diseases in the world’s poorest places.

In a telephone conversation Mr. Ban thanked the U2 singer for his concern about and work to alleviate the suffering in the region, where the United Nations believe that tens of thousands of people, many of them children under five, have already died and hundreds of thousands face imminent starvation and death, mainly in war-torn Somalia because of drought.

Mr. Ban and Bono discussed the need to galvanize fund-raising efforts and to improve access for humanitarian workers to deliver aid, and agreed on the importance of supporting political dialogue in Somalia, where 3.7 million people, nearly half the population, are now directly at risk of famine, according to a UN read-out of the conversation.

Yesterday, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg told the Security Council the crisis had not yet crested since further deterioration is considered likely due to the very high levels of severe acute malnutrition and under-five mortality together with an expected continued increase in cereal prices, and a below-average rainy season harvest.

At the same time, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga told the Council recent political accords and military improvements, including last week’s withdrawal of Al-Shabaab Islamic insurgents from 95 per cent of Mogadishu, the capital, offered an “extraordinary moment” of opportunity for progress on the path to stability in a country riven by fighting for the past 20 years, during which it has not had a functioning central government.

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