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Famine, Refugees, and Global Transitions: The UN’s New Leader Is Taking on an Impossible Job

Guterres has become Secretary-General of the United Nations at perhaps the most challenging moment in its history. More than 65 million people have been displaced by conflict and crisis, more than at any time since World War II.

By Kevin Sieff

In one of the world’s hungriest cities, the new head of the United Nations was trudging past makeshift tents made of bedsheets and mosquito nets. The displacement camp had ballooned in recent weeks as Somalis fled a devastating drought and conflict. Just 15 miles away, al-Qaeda-linked militants controlled villages, blocking aid.

“Are you receiving assistance?” António Guterres, 67, asked a skinny man with a graying goatee, standing outside one tent.

Abdullahi Mohammed Abdi, 48, looked at the man in the white button-down shirt and bulletproof vest, sweating in the 100-degree heat. Abdi’s family was sharing one small bucket of cornmeal per day.

Image: U.N. Secretary General António Guterres arrives in Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 7. (Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)

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