UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attend a press conference in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, March 7, 2017. Guterres landed in Mogadishu Tuesday morning in what he described as an urgent need to address the ongoing an outbreak of cholera and severe drought ravaging the Horn of Africa nation. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
MOGADISHU, March 7 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned of a spiraling famine in Somalia should the international community fail to respond in time.
Speaking in Somali capital of Mogadishu after meeting with the country's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Guterres said millions of Somalis are facing food shortage and disease and that the situation is getting worse unless the world acts fast.
"This is a moment of tragedy, people are dying because of famine; because of disease but this is a moment of hope because the government is ready to act, the humanitarian community is ready to act," he said.
He said that with the support of the international community, "it will be possible to avoid the worst and it will be possible to launch the pillars, the fundamental basis for Somalia to be able to turn the page."
The UN announced last month Somalia was gradually slipping into famine calling for 825 million U.S. dollars aid to support up to 6.2 million people.
The UN chief noted that "without that support we will have a tragedy that is absolutely unacceptable and that the Somali people do not deserve."
"All these reasons," the UN chief said. "justify a massive response but we have things prepared in the ground but we need financial support from the international community."
Guterres also visited Baydhabo town in south western Somalia where he was expected to visit a hospital and internally displaced people's camp.