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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid