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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid