U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell is urging countries to “reach deeper into their pockets” to address urgent needs in Somalia, particularly as the anticipated rainy month of October approaches. At the same time, Mitchell emphasized the importance of going beyond emergency relief and help Somalia and its neighbors “build back better.”“October threatens to be the critical month in Somalia,” Mitchell said ahead of his visit to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly. “In a bitter irony, the rains that are so desperately needed — and will help recovery in the long term — will bring disease that threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people, weakened by hunger.”He said the international community needs to ensure emergency assistance reaches those who need it the most. He also challenged other countries to not be “merely bit part players” in the international response to the East African crisis, to which he said the United Kingdom has taken a lead role. But the international community should also look beyond emergency relief, Mitchell noted. Donors should also support resilience-building activities that are tailored to the needs of recipient countries and which covers issues such as conflict mitigation and natural resource management, he said. Mitchell raised these points in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, where he also launched a new U.K. plan to address malnutrition in developing countries.
The four-year strategy targets to improve the nutrition of 20 million children under 5, adolescent girls and pregnant women by providing micronutrient and vitamin supplements, and promoting breast-feeding. It also aims to deal with the underlying causes of malnutrition, including gender inequality and food security.
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