Posted on July 19, 2011

Major African Countries Ignore Horn of Africa Famine Appeal

Aislinn Laing and Mike Pflanz, Telegraph (London), July 15, 2011

Despite the continent’s biggest economies having previously made generous contributions to aid efforts in Haiti and Japan, there has been little response from them so far to what aid agencies are calling the worst drought in 60 years.

Million-pound donations have been sent to the World Food Programme by the US, France, Germany and the EU. Kenya and Sudan, countries in the affected region, have also contributed.

UN officials said the World Food Programme had received 60 per cent of the $500 million (£300 million) it appealed for to help save the lives of an estimated 10 million people. But to date, there has been no announcement of aid sent to the region by any of the major African economies, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Angola and Tanzania.

So far, the British Government has pledged £38 million in food aid to Ethiopia and the British public has donated £13 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa appeal. Today, Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, will announce an additional £52.25 million package of support for the region.

South Africa has a grain surplus of 40,000 tons. Contacted by The Daily Telegraph this week, Clayson Monyela, South Africa’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman, said the country usually channelled aid through charities. He did not answer questions about its response to the latest crisis. An official with the Angolan foreign affairs ministry said that he was still waiting for information about his country’s response.

Jean Ping, the African Union’s chairman, said the Ugandan-led AU mission in Somalia was stepping up security to ensure aid gets through to those in need. The AU’s High Representative for Somalia, the former Ghanaian president Jerry John Rawlings, has also been told to “sensitise” African nations to provide financial and material support.

Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Oxfam’s regional campaigns policy manager for East and Central Africa, said it was “disappointing” that African states insist on “African solutions for African problems” with regard to Libya but fail to respond to droughts and famines.

“It’s a general malaise on the continent, the culture that humanitarian responses should be left to Western countries,” he said. “You don’t have to be a first-world country to respond to your brothers’ needs. This could have been a good opportunity for African countries to practise what they preach.”

Heavy rain in Somalia has added to the misery of those looking for help: too little and too late for much of their livestock.

“When you are hungry, cold is a killer, and the people here are starving and helpless,” said Batula Moalim Ahmed, an elderly mother, who called for plastic sheeting for shelter, as well as for food and medicine.