UN Secretary General Calls to Avoid Humanitarian Tragedy in Somalia

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed vowed to reform his country's economy

"We want to see the integration of Somali regional forces and an increase in Somali capacity, as this will be crucial in allowing the resumption of offensives against the remaining al Shabaab strongholds in southern Somalia", May said.

About 2.9 million Somalis are facing starvation, and 6.2 million need aid after drought withered crops, killed livestock and dried up waterholes in East Africa, the U.N.'s World Food Programme says.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome ahead of the Somalia Conference at No 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Guterres told a UK-hosted global conference on Somalia that the "country's future hangs in the balance between peril and potential".

Somalia is also facing new military interest from the United States, as President Donald Trump has approved expanded operations, including airstrikes, against the terrorist group al-Shabab.

Britain is hosting a high-level conference to address the deepening humanitarian crisis and security situation in Somalia.

EU Ambassador to Somalia Veronique Lorenzo expressed Europe's solidarity with Somalia, in the wake of the devastating drought that has caused untold suffering and death, Xinhua news agency reported.

The conference is also looking to ensure Somalia can take greater responsibility for its own security from the 22,000-strong African Union troop deployment.

Somalia is facing a terrible famine
Somalia is facing a terrible famine

AMISOM, deployed in 2007, has gradually reclaimed much of the group's urban territory-including the capital Mogadishu, which al-Shabab was rooted out of in 2011-but the militants still control much of the country's rural areas and regularly carry out suicide bombings in Mogadishu.

The Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed, said al-Shabaab could be defeated in two years but urged more countries to forgive Somalia's debt.

World Health Organization added that if the current drought situation continues, "famine could soon be a reality".

Drought has also led to lack of clean water and the largest outbreak of cholera Somalia has seen in the last 5 years, with more than 36 000 cases and nearly 690 deaths so far in 2017 alone.

The kidnapping of aid workers and extortion at checkpoints are on the rise in Somalia, hindering efforts to prevent the country slipping into renewed starvation.

Humanitarian agencies operating in Somalia say they are concerned about reports of upcoming military offensives in the country at a time when the risk of starvation still persists.

Partly as a result of that, a range of regional forces including clan militias, the Ethiopia-backed Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamea militia, the US -supported Puntland forces and a regional force in Jubaland have been reluctant to join a centralized force.

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