Africa fundraises for drought crisis

2011-08-25 12:10
Addis Ababa - African leaders held a fund-raising conference in Ethiopia Thursday in a bid to plug a $1.1 billion shortfall in aid for millions facing starvation in the Horn of Africa's worst drought in decades.

African Union chairperson Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Djiboutiian President Ismael Omar Guelleh and Somali leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed were present at the start of the meeting.

The fund-raising conference is the first of its kind by the pan-African body, which has so far pledged only a tiny fraction of the sums needed to deliver relief to the region.

"We want an action-oriented conference. We don't want words, we want action," said Noureddine Mezni, the AU commission spokesperson, calling for contributions to plug the $1.1bn funding shortfall.

A total of $2.4bn is required to assist the 12.4 million drought victims. The AU has pledged $500 000.

"The African private sector should be involved too," added Mezni.

The Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in decades which, combined with conflict and resource mismanagement in Somalia, has led to what the UN describes as the world's worst unfolding humanitarian disaster.

The world body for the first time this century has declared a state of famine in five Somali regions and said it could spread to engulf the country's entire south.

Thousands struggling

The drought has also left millions in parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda facing starvation.

AU Commission chief Jean Ping urged Africans to "act out against hunger by providing both cash and in-kind support for urgent life-saving assistance to our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa".

A pan-African fundraising campaign, Africans Act 4 Africa, criticised African governments and the AU for not responding quickly enough to a crisis that blew up two months ago.

So far, African governments have pledged $21m, but only from a few countries, the fundraising group said in a statement, adding that Africa should offer a minimum of $50m.

"If we truly believe in 'African solutions for African problems' we need to demonstrate this very clearly, not just in words but in actions," the group said.

"We need to ensure this is not just another talk shop where AU leaders spend a lot of money on travel, protocol and their entourages."

Somalia has been the worst affected country in the region, with nearly half of its estimated 10 million people in need of humanitarian aid and hundreds of thousands struggling for survival after fleeing to Ethiopian and Kenyan camps.

Moral obligation

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden warned on Wednesday that Somalia's Middle and Lower Juba regions could be hit by famine, adding to the five regions already declared to be in famine.

"We are anticipating that two more areas of southern Somalia will be included," Bowden told AFP.

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also on Wednesday urged world governments to meet a "moral obligation" and increase emergency aid to the drought-hit Horn of Africa.

"The situation is grave, and it is a moral obligation of the international community to offer its help," she said.

Ashton said the EU's immediate humanitarian commitment for this year had risen from €97m to €158m, while national aid pledges from its member states totalled a further 440 million.

Others attending the Addis Ababa meeting were AU representative to Somalia and former Ghanaian president, Jerry Rawlings and UN deputy secretary general Asha Rose Migiro.

Read more on:    au  |  sharif sheikh ahmed  |  meles zenawi  |  teodoro obiang nguema  |  ismael omar guelleh  |  jerry rawlings  |  djibouti  |  somalia  |  uganda  |  ethiopia  |  kenya  |  east africa hunger  |  africa drought  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.