25 August 2011
The African Union (AU) hopes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for victims of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa at a pledging conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Thursday.
The one-day pledging conference will spotlight Africa’s response to the drought threatening millions of lives, most of them in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The conference is expected to attract several African leaders who will be at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa for high-level meetings on Libya on Friday.
Critics have noted that while several international donors have made generous contributions that are helping to alleviate the suffering in the Horn of Africa, Africa’s response has been slow.
The AU has already pledged US$500-million, but the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the demands are huge, with a US$1.1-billion shortfall from a total $2.4-billion that is needed.
Some 12.4-million people in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, are affected by the worst drought in decades in the region and are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.
South Africa, which has been providing support to vulnerable communities in Somalia, will be represented in the conference by Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Marius Fransman.
The South African government has so far raised R8-million towards the famine relief programme, of which R4 million was donated to South African NGO Gift of the Givers to help cover the costs of delivering aid to Somalia.
“The government, led by the Department of International Relations, in partnership with Brand South Africa, teamed up with Gift of the Givers and launched the Somalia Relief Campaign aimed … galvanising South Africans to make donations for relief efforts in that East African country,” the department said.
The South African government also provided free transport in the form of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) C130 Hercules supply plane to the Gift of the Givers to deliver 18 tons of essential food and anti-malaria medication to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last week.
This latest consignment brings to 112 tons the total aid delivered to Somalia by the Gift of the Givers in a two-week period.
This is in addition to government and other South African-based organizations’ efforts to bring relief for Somalis both in Somalia and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
These organisations include Islamic Relief South Africa, Africa Muslim Agency, Netcare South Africa, the Al Imdaad Foundation and the Somali Community Board of South Africa.