UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for total funding of all aid operations in the Horn of Africa as hunger is overwhelming the region due to drought.
In a video message to a side event of the General Assembly General Debate on urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa, the UN chief said millions of people in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are confronting the worst drought in nearly half a century.
Four rainy seasons have failed to materialize, and now a fifth will likely fail too, he said.
Starvation is already a terrible reality for many, and famine looms, he warned.
Humanitarians on the ground describe a hellish landscape of suffering and pain: children so malnourished they are too weak to even cry, millions of animals dead by the wayside next to barren fields, and food prices at local markets at record highs, he said.
"It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of the unfolding disaster. But if we act now, we can prevent the worst," said Guterres.
He called for three urgent actions.
First, fully fund all aspects of the emergency response -- from food, health care and nutrition, to water and sanitation services.
Second, support local aid groups which can reach the most vulnerable populations.
Third, urge all parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law and ensure safe and unimpeded access to people in need.
"Looking ahead, we must dramatically scale up investments in climate adaptation and better support people in their transition to new livelihoods," he said. "The people in the Horn of Africa are staring into the abyss of humanitarian catastrophe. Let us act now -- with greater urgency, in greater solidarity."