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Horn of Africa, 7 September 2011: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou N’Dour calls for “indivertible and undivided focus” on plight of children affected by crisis

NAIROBI, Kenya, 7 September 2011 - UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Youssou N’Dour has called upon African and other world leaders to find lasting solutions to the repeated cycle of crisis, after meeting families affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa.

“Having looked into the faces and listened to the voices of those caught up in this tragedy, I find it unacceptable that I am confronted by such stories of suffering and despair in this day and age,” he said.

“There must be an indivertible and undivided focus on what is happening to children here in the Horn of Africa. Each of us has a role to play in responding to the urgent needs of these children, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent this happening again.”

Mr. N’Dour spent yesterday meeting Somali refugees living in the Dadaab camps in north-eastern Kenya. Earlier this week, the UN announced that the number of people affected by famine inside Somalia had doubled, to 750,000, since July.

During his visit to the refugee camps, Mr. N’Dour saw first-hand the treatment of severely malnourished children, immunization efforts and schools that opened this week in the camps.

“I am confident that humanitarian agencies are doing everything they can to reach those who need their help,” said Mr. N’Dour. “We have a responsibility to do all that we can so that every child can be reached, their immediate needs are met, their health is safeguarded and that they are protected from all harm.”

Mr. N’Dour stressed the need for a collective effort, involving African leaders and local communities, to prevent the annual cycle of drought and disease in the region.

“With the resources and knowledge available in the world today, I find it intolerable that we see these emergencies occurring time and time again,” he said.

“African nations, African figureheads and African communities, alongside other world leaders, need to prioritise lasting solutions. That means strengthening governance so the right investments are made in basic services, championing peace so that people are no longer forced to flee their homes and livelihoods, protecting the natural environment so that peoples’ way of life is sustainable, and empowering local communities from where the process of change will emerge.”

For more information:

Michael Klaus, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office
+254 (0)716 431 880,



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