Boris Johnson in surprise Somalia visit amid drought warning

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has made a surprise visit to Mogadishu, the conflict-recovering capital of the horn of Africa country.

"Boris met Somalia's President Mohamed and discussed strengthening ties with Somalia, doubling the support for Somali government, and aid assistance for the drought in Somalia", the website for state-run Radio Mogadishu said.

Britain's foreign secretary pledged the United Kingdom government's continued support for Somalia during the crisis including US$134.35 million (110 million pounds) in aid which, he said, will be used to provide help for people who really need it.

According to the United Nations, around half of Somalia's population - 6 million people - face the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.

Last month, Britain promised £100 million in aid to Somalia in response to the crisis and Johnson said the British government would match the first £5 million ($6 million) donated by the British public for East Africa.

Stephen O'Brien, UN humanitarian chief, said after his recent visit to Somalia 2.9 million people required immediate help "to save or sustain their lives". He has said close to one million children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished this year.

Current indicators mirror "the tragic picture of 2011 when Somalia last suffered a starvation", said the humanitarian chief.

"I think we're moving fast to try to tackle that this time round and the UK Government has pledged £110m to try to kick-start that work and make sure we get supplies to those who need it".

"To be clear, we can avert a starvation", O'Brien has said.

Johnson's visit to Somalia had not been announced for security reasons.

The country has been wracked by a two-decade civil war and several natural disasters. The pair also discussed a donor's conference for Somalia scheduled to take place in London in May.

Mr Johnson also is expected to visit Kenya and Ethiopia.

  • Leroy Wright