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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid