News / Africa

AU Drought Aid Conference Nets $350 Million in Donations

Women and children from southern Somalia receive cooked food at a distribution center in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 25, 2011
Women and children from southern Somalia receive cooked food at a distribution center in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 25, 2011

Ethiopia's prime minister says East African countries are ready to help provide security for humanitarian aid deliveries to famine-stricken parts of Somalia controlled by Islamist insurgents.   The remarks from Meles Zenawi came Thursday at an African Union pledging conference that netted more than $350 million in cash contributions to help those facing starvation in the Horn of Africa.

Prime Minister Meles rejected the idea that the famine stalking Somalia is caused by a food shortage.  He noted that parts of Kenya and Ethiopia have been hit just as hard by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in decades, but famine has been avoided in those areas.

Speaking to a hall filled with African and international dignitaries, the Ethiopian leader laid blame for the famine squarely on the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab.  He said it is no accident that the famine zone is limited mostly to areas of Somalia under al-Shabab's control, where aid groups have limited access.

"The lack of peace and security in many parts of the country and consequently the absence of governmental institutions has impeded effective response to the drought," Meles said.  "The callous disregard for lives of the al-Shabab terrorists and their calculated sabotage of all efforts to help the needy has forced people to travel for weeks to get aid or die in their homes and on their way to refugee camps."

Meles said the six-nation East African regional group Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has developed a plan to provide security for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) as it expands aid deliveries into rural areas no longer under al-Shabab control.

"We should be able to provide aid in Somalia, not only in Mogadishu but also other areas that are not under the control of al-Shabab terrorists," added Meles.  "The IGAD region is ready to contribute to such cross-border operation by assisting the TFG and other forces of peace to ensure the necessary environment for such an operation. Our foreign ministers and chiefs of staff have already made the necessary decisions in this regard."

Meles appealed to the international community to help in expanding what he called "the zone of stability" in central and southern Somalia so that food aid can reach the estimated 2.2 million people in danger of starvation.

It was not immediately clear whether the Ethiopian leader's proposal would involve sending troops from IGAD countries to provide security for aid deliveries. Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia in December 2006 in an ill-fated attempt to support the Transitional Federal Government, but withdrew them two years later.

Delegates at Thursday's pledging conference heard worrying details about the scale of the famine crisis, prompting dozens of pledges of financial support.  United Nations Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro, a former Tanzanian foreign minister, explained that the current death rate of 13 per 10,000 each day in some areas means an entire generation of Somalis hangs in the balance.

"When we say mortality rates in young children have reached 13 per 10,000 per day in some areas, that means by the time we go to sleep tonight, 13 children will have died in a community of 10,000 people today, and 13 more will die tomorrow and another 13 the day after," said Migiro.

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was among four African heads of state attending the pledging conference.  Speaking through an interpreter, he expressed thanks not only for the humanitarian aid, but also for international help in pushing back al-Shabab fighters, making it possible to provide aid to parts of the famine zone.

"We are appealing for getting humanitarian assistance and multiplying the humanitarian agencies' efforts in order to bring back stability all over the country and enable government to have its control over the whole territory, and we need assistance to overcome the situation where a war is being imposed on us by al-Qaida and al-Shabab," said Sharif.

African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping closed the conference with announcement that more than $350 million dollars in cash contributions had been received during the day.  He said $300 million came from the African Development Bank and $51 million from other African sources, including the countries of the continent.  He said there were also a few private donations.  It was not immediately clear how much of the total was new money.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid