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UN will support Kenya response to drought and regional conflicts | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [left] shakes hands with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the State House in Nairobi. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres [right] said on Wednesday that the international community will rally behind Kenya’s efforts to tackle biting drought and regional conflicts. XINHUA PHOTOS - PAN SIWEI

UN will support Kenya response to drought and regional conflicts

by Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the international community will rally behind Kenya’s efforts to tackle biting drought and regional conflicts.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Nairobi with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guterres noted that Kenya required external support to help deal with the current drought that has affected an estimated 3 million people.

"I hope the international community will match Kenya’s generosity in this time it is facing prolonged drought," he told journalists while reaffirming the UN’s commitment to helping Kenya achieve sustainable development, peace and security.

Guterres’ first visit to Kenya as the UN Secretary General came against a backdrop of a devastating drought in the northern parts of the country that has fueled inter-tribal hostilities.

President Kenyatta on Feb.10 declared drought a national disaster and appealed to the international community to speed up emergency relief aid. In response, the UN announced it will lend emergency support to communities affected by drought.

Guterres said the United Nations in solidarity with Kenya as the east African nation grapples with climate induced food crises and the spillover of regional conflicts.

"We appreciate the relationship between Kenya and the UN to enable the country achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs)," said the UN boss, adding that Kenya has been a strategic partner in efforts to stabilize regional hotspots like Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

On his part, Kenyatta welcomed UN’s support toward a national drought emergency strategy launched early this year to enhance communities’ resilience in the face of food and water scarcity.

At the same time, the Kenyan leader said a multilateral approach is key to solving regional conflicts and the attendant refugee crises.


UN chief visits Kenyan slum to highlight plight of urban poor

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited a Kenyan slum Wednesday to underscore the need to focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the fight against poverty, which is punctuated by more women living in poor and unplanned neighborhoods.

Guterres visited the Nairobi slum of Mathare, one of the biggest informal settlements, where he met with the youth, women leaders and representatives of drought-stricken families from the Rift Valley, to discuss how authorities could use policies to deal with drought.

Guterres was accompanied by UN Settlement Agency (UN-Habitat) Executive Director Joan Clos and the UN-Habitat’s Chief of Youth and Livelihoods, Doug Ragan, to a youth centre in the slum.

Clos said during the visit, which also coincided with the International Women’s Day, the urban centres and cities were emerging spaces for youth innovation, where women were the main players.

"As representatives of change, they are great assets in our efforts towards gender equality and women’s empowerment," Clos said.

Guterres met women aspirants vying for political posts during the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Kenya and called for the empowerment of women and girls.

The UN chief said access to credit would empower women and communities.

During the visit, women representatives from Laikipia, one region in Kenya, affected by the ongoing drought in Kenya, called for the protection of women, including those running for political offices.

"We are here to discuss the challenges facing women.

"Women should not assume that the women’s vote could be taken for granted," said Esther Mwaura-Muiru, of Grassroots Kenya, an organization that represents women aspirants.

Guterres met with members of an all-girl team, the Mathare Up for Slum Dwellers Team, to emphasize his agenda against urban poverty, UN officials said.

The team represented the SDG 11 agenda, which UN Habitat officials say is crucial to its ongoing campaign for youth and public space.

"The crisis in Laikipia has to do with climate change but the government is not doing much.

"They have done too little to assist the communities in Laikipia North, which is a semi-desert.

"We want our region classified as arid because it has no difference with Wajir," said John ole Monto, a local community leader.

UN agencies insist efforts to improve the status of women are currently underway, including through its newly adopted New Urban Agenda, which is an opportunity to empower women.

"It is a unique tool which recognizes urban economic empowerment of women.

"It is a tool which recognizes urbanization as an endogenous source of development and prosperity," Clos said.


MARSABIT, (Xinhua) -- A boy waits to collect water in Marsabit, one of the most severe drought-hit regions in Kenya, on March 5, 2017. The UN relief chief on Saturday urged international support for the estimated 2.7 million people in parts of Kenya who urgently need food and water following the onset of a severe drought.  XINHUA PHOTO: PAN SIWEI

UN chief due in Kenya amid severe drought

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due in Nairobi on Sunday for a two-day visit to discuss a range of regional issues amid looming famine in the region.

A statement from Guterres spokesman office said while in Kenya, the world’s top diplomat will meet with senior Kenyan government officials amid severe drought which has left more than 3 million Kenyans facing acute food shortage.

“While in Kenya, the Secretary-General will meet with senior leadership of the Kenyan Government to discuss a range of regional issues,” the statement said on Sunday morning.

Gutteres who took the UN helm in January will also participate in a number of events in the Kenyan capital to mark International Women’s Day.

“Prior to returning to New York, he will visit the UN Headquarters in Gigiri. We expect the Secretary-General to be back in New York on Thursday,” the statement said. 



UN calls for measures to save lives in drought-hit Kenya


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