400 000 Somali kids at risk of death

2011-08-18 08:57

Mogadishu - Britain said on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of children could starve to death in Somalia if the international community did not ramp up its response to the famine there.

Britain has already pledged more than £80m ($130m) to help tackle what aid agencies are calling the worst drought in decades to hit Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The British government is expected to announce additional funding specifically to deal with the unravelling humanitarian crisis later on Wednesday, a diplomatic source said.

"We call today on other countries to put their shoulders to the wheel and ensure this dreadful famine ... does not claim up to 400 000 children," Andrew Mitchell, Britain's International Development Secretary, told a news conference in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Japan has also pledged about $600 000 worth of aid to the UN refugee agency to help famine victims at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, home to 440 000 Somali refugees.

Mitchell's visit to Somalia, which is grappling to quash an Islamist rebellion that has hampered the delivery of food aid across swathes of its southern and central regions, was the first by a senior British minister since 1992.

Claims of food aid stealing

Somalia has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. First warlords, then Islamist militants stepped into the power vacuum, reducing a string of Western-backed governments to impotence.

Earlier this month, however, the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab rebels pulled most of their troops out of Mogadishu, epicentre of their bloody struggle.

Their retreat effectively left the government in control of the entire capital for the first time since the civil war began in the early nineties, although Somali troops and African peacekeepers still encounter pockets of rebel resistance.

"[We discussed] the importance of taking the opportunity of using the withdrawal of al-Shabaab from Mogadishu to demonstrate what the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] can deliver," Mitchell said after meeting Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

It was imperative Somalia's government cracked down on graft, Mitchell said.

Somalia is among the world's most corrupt nations and in recent days has been hit by allegations that food aid intended for famine victims was being stolen and sold for a profit.

The UN World Food Programme said on Monday it was investigating claims of theft and sought to assure Somalis there would be no reduction in food aid flows.

"I want to tell the international community that we have a zero tolerance, zero tolerance, for any kind of government militia or any other Somali looting food aid," Ali said.

Thousands of refugees have been making the treacherous journey from the worst-hit drought areas, mostly under the control of rebels, to Mogadishu to seek access to food.

There they generally stay at one of several overcrowded makeshift camps in Mogadishu where cholera has broken out in parts of the capital as well as in other areas of the country.

The British charity Oxfam said it would begin airlifting 47 tons of water supply and hygiene materials to Mogadishu on Thursday to help more than 120 000 people get clean water.

  • Gibbonater - 2011-08-18 09:39

    Why is Britain always sticking its nose in other peoples business. African wants and needs african solutions for african problems. Why must the wast step in to help. What about africa, the middle east and China.

      Totman - 2011-08-18 10:24

      I am not sure if you complain about the help or blame others for not helping. If you complain[Britain] why asking for the middle east and China to help? If you indirectly blaming the other you should know they wanted less people to compete with when taking over Africa. Do you think China likes black people? They misuse them. Africa is not capable of organizing a meeting that carries equal funding for it. What about resolve it's own problems.

      Kaapie - 2011-08-18 13:10

      Totman have another read and tell me honestly the reference to the west and reference to Afirca and what Africans are doing/not doing and tell me if there are no racial connotations.

      Danie - 2011-08-18 14:03

      Because African people(blacks) do not have the ability or will to find solutions for African problems..When all the whites disappeared from SA ,that is what your kids and grandkids will have to endure.. I asume you are black, because your thinking is as such.

      Doublepost - 2011-08-18 16:16

      Here's an "African solution!" Let them starve!

  • Julsie3 - 2011-08-18 09:40

    Ask the African Development Bank for help. They've given 29.6million to Zim....

  • Andre - 2011-08-18 09:46

    And all of this while African leaders collect their wealth from the very same people dying from hunger. Shame on them!!! Surely the world can help here. Why are they dying and none gives a sh&t!!!

  • Kaapie - 2011-08-18 09:51

    I have read your comments and clearly you are a bunch of racists who fail to it.. Lets hope you NEVER find yourself in a situation where you would require huamitarian aid of any sorts..and to 'White stars' your name should be darkstar.. wonder if Gift of the Givers is a "white organisation'. Again because of people like the previous posters we as SAcans will struggle with real change in this beutifal land of ours..

      Totman - 2011-08-18 10:30

      I agree that the ones that said there must be no help are wrong, but I did not see any race reference. If you mend the word Africans you can than call me a racist as well. I am an African[I presume now you battle again with colour?] and I am saying we cant help ourselves and must be glad some-one is willing to help us.

  • Ann - 2011-08-18 09:52

    This is absolutely criminal that the world can watch this happening for the umpteenth time.

      Danie - 2011-08-18 13:50

      Why? the world have helped them, but they keep on breeding.

  • Tertia - 2011-08-18 10:07

    And in SA people with jobs ie income, food etc strike and go on the rampage because they demand more.... whilst others are starving to death!

  • Abrie - 2011-08-18 10:18

    Wonder where Britain is kicking up the Money now? They are in a fix as it is? These people (Somalia) has laws to protect Pirates to steal from the seas. Let them sort themselves out with loot already taken!!

  • pig - 2011-08-18 10:48

    castrate all the males, or let nature take its way!!

  • zackie - 2011-08-18 12:54

    as always the west has to pick up the pieces in africa

  • Danie - 2011-08-18 13:48

    Hope Kolobe read this. This is your future without whites

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