Step up response to E Africa, celebs say
Rome - Bob Geldof, Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard joined other celebrities and activists on Monday in urging world leaders to step up their response to the Horn of Africa crisis ahead of emergency talks in Rome.
"As we write, more than 11 million people are suffering the great agony of the worst famine in Africa for many years," they said in a joint letter released by One, a poverty campaign group founded by singer and activist Bono.
"It is incomprehensible that in 2011 anyone should die of starvation. Six hundred million dollars is needed now for our fellow humans. Not a great sum for the world, even in a time of great economic difficulty for some," the letter read.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is hosting emergency talks in Rome on Monday as aid groups scramble to raise money for an estimated 12 million people on the brink of starvation in the drought-stricken region.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed by the worst drought in 60 years, which has wreaked havoc in war-torn Somalia but has also hit more widely in parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, the UN says.
"All can and should use this meeting to make their pledges and find this money without reservation, prevarication or equivocation," said the campaigners including actress Kristin Scott Thomas and director Richard Curtis.
An online petition by One which calls urgently on world leaders not only to provide the necessary funds now but to keep their promises to invest in crisis prevention has been signed by 37 035 people so far.