Pope appeals for aid for drought-stricken Somalia – Manila Bulletin

Pope calls for help for drought-hit Somalia

VATICAN CITY, Holy See — Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for international help for Somalia to fight a “deadly” drought that the UN says has displaced one million people.

The 85-year-old pontiff drew attention to what he called the “grave humanitarian crisis” in Somalia and parts of neighboring countries after his weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican.

“The people of this region, who already live in very precarious conditions, are now in a deadly period because of the drought,” he said.

“I hope that international solidarity can respond to this emergency.

“Unfortunately, war diverts attention and resources, but these are the goals that demand the most commitment – the fight against hunger, health, education.” Somalia and its Horn of Africa neighbors including Ethiopia and Kenya are grappling with the worst drought in more than 40 years after four failed rainy seasons that decimated crops and livestock.

More than 755,000 people have fled their homes but remain within Somalia’s borders, which, added to those who have fled abroad, brings the total to one million, the UN agency said on Thursday. Refugee Agency, UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

“Famine is now haunting the whole country,” said Mohamed Abdi, NRC’s country director in Somalia.

Conflict-torn Somalia is particularly ill-equipped to deal with the situation, with a bitter Islamist insurgency limiting humanitarian access to parts of the country. Al-Shabaab militants have stepped up their attacks in recent months.

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