LONDON: A senior Somali official has claimed that the UK has lost its place as one of the world’s leading nations, with dire consequences for the third world.
Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the presidential envoy for Somalia’s drought response, told The Guardian during a tour of Europe to drum up support for his country that the UK’s loss of status is harming developing nations because it had played a crucial role in advocating on their behalf on issues such as food security and climate change.
Warsame, who holds dual British and Somali citizenship, said the UK used to be second only to the US on the international stage in terms of influence, but is now letting down its allies.
As a result, he said, countries such as his are being left to face “the new climate reality” on their own, with promises from the international community of access for poorer states to a $96.8 billion climate fund failing to materialize.
“We are living with the deadly consequences of climate change in Somalia,” he added. “Millions of children are malnourished, many will die, and we don’t have one penny of that climate fund.”
He added: “Everyone has been saying, ‘When you have famine declared, you will have attention.’ We are facing more than the scale of 2011, when we lost a quarter of a million of our people. But in 2011 half the people died before famine was declared.
“We are more than famine in Somalia. We are coming out of a long conflict and have had a successful, peaceful election; we are building our institutions, we are building our national army, we are pushing back Al-Shabaab. But at the same time we have this drought.
“In the 2017 drought, the UK and its leadership was vital, its advocacy and energy was great, and it encouraged people like me to match that commitment. Britain was a great ally to Somalia but that is all gone.
“The UK is still an ally, and they help with security, but when it comes to humanitarian response they are not there, not in leadership or in aid. It’s all gone. The UK used to provide a leadership that others would follow.”
Warsame criticized a preoccupation with Ukraine by European nations for glossing over impending climate-related disasters, including famine in Somalia.
“No one is interested in the climate, in food security,” he said. “It’s all ‘Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.’ It gets all the political attention.”
He added: “If we had not had Ukraine, COVID-19 and the (2019-2022) locust invasion then the effect might be less, but the drought is caused by climate change.
“We have had four failed rainy seasons now. The cycle of drought used to be every 10 years, now it’s four years and soon it will be two years. That is not caused by Somalia — that was caused by the climate crisis.”
Warsame said climate funds, diverted into technology, infrastructure, agriculture and fishing, would ward off the threat of famine in Somalia if it was given access to the $96.8 billion pot.
“Somalians are resilient people. They cope with all the pressures of insecurity and drought, and the world can learn from them how to be resilient in the face of such pressure,” he added.