On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Mogadishu to begin a quick visit to Somalia, a country ravaged by protracted armed war and natural calamities.
Social media images showed Guterres being greeted with a red carpet at the capital city’s airport by Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abshir Omar Huruse and other authorities.
During the surprise visit, Somalia has imposed a security lockdown on Mogadishu, with major roads closed and public transportation restricted.
Guterres’ visit comes as the country is gripped by a disastrous drought that has pushed many people to the verge of famine, and the government is also engaged in a major effort to put down a brutal Islamist insurgency.
The United Nations has launched a $2.6 billion humanitarian aid appeal for the embattled Horn of Africa country, but it is now just 13 percent financed.
Five consecutive failed rainy seasons in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia have resulted in the worst drought in four decades, destroying cattle and crops and causing at least 1.7 million people to flee their homes in search of food and water.
While famine thresholds have not been reached in Somalia, the UN estimates that over half of the country’s population would require humanitarian aid this year, with 8.3 million people affected by the drought.
“The crisis is far from ended; needs remain high and urgent,” said Adam Abdelmoula, the UN’s resident coordinator for Somalia, last week in Geneva.
“Some of the worst devastated communities are still at risk of hunger.”