UN to start airlifting food to Somalia

The United Nations World Food Programme was set on Tuesday to start airlifting food to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya after an emergency meeting in Rome on the drought-stricken Horn of Africa region.

An estimated 3.7-million people in Somalia — around a third of the population — are on the brink of starvation and millions more in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have been struck by the worst drought in the region in 60 years.

WFP chief Josette Sheeran said her organisation would begin food airlifts to the Somali capital Mogadishu, as well as aid flights to Dolo in Ethiopia on the border with Somalia and to Wajir in northern Kenya, which has been badly hit by drought.

The plight of children in Somalia is “the worst I have ever seen,” she said, after visiting Mogadishu and the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya over the weekend.

“What we saw is children who are arriving so weak that many of them are in stage four malnutrition and have little chance — less than 40% chance — of making it,” Sheeran said.


“The catastrophic situation demands massive and urgent international aid,” Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told participants at Monday’s Rome meeting.

“It is imperative to stop the famine,” declared by the UN this month in two insurgent-held areas of southern Somalia, Diouf said.
Officials said at Monday’s meeting the UN has received about $1-billion since first launching an appeal for the region in November 2010 but needs a billion more by the end of the year to cope with the emergency.

The World Bank on Monday pledged more than $500-million, with the bulk of the money set to go towards long-term projects to aid livestock farmers while $12-million would be for immediate assistance to those worst hit by the crisis.

But charities voiced disappointment at the international response.

“It is shameful that only a few of the richest and powerful economies were willing to demonstrate today their commitment to saving the lives of many of the poorest and most vulnerable,” said Barbara Stocking, the head of Oxfam.

U2 band frontman and anti-poverty campaigner Bono’s charity ONE said: “The political will manifested in Rome should be followed by action.”

French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire called for the creation of a rapid reaction unit within the FAO to respond to food crises, more research into drought-resilient crops and a crackdown on high food prices.

“If we don’t take the necessary measures, famine will be the scandal of this century,” Le Maire said. He also berated the international community for having “failed” to ensure food security in a world affected by climate change.

Le Maire said the issue would be discussed at “the donor conference in Nairobi in two days’ time.” A spokesperson for the FAO later specified this was not a pledging conference but a regular meeting to which donors had been invited.

UN officials say the drought has killed tens of thousands of people in recent months, forcing hundreds of thousands of desperate survivors from the worst-affected areas of Somalia to walk for weeks in search of food and water.

The key challenge for aid groups has been reaching parts of southern Somalia held by the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militia group Shebab, which has banned WFP and other international humanitarian agencies from operating on its territory.

Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim called for “humanitarian corridors” to reach the affected areas. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Ella Ide
Ella Ide
Writing and Editing AFP.

Related stories

Record 45mn need urgent food aid in Southern Africa — UN

Roughly 45-million people in southern Africa are in urgent need of food aid as a result of drought, flooding and economic hardship, the UN...

Climate change, corruption blamed for Venice flood devastation

Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa blamed climate change and the "tropicalisation" of violent rainfall and strong winds

Hunger, death and safer births in cash-strapped Zimbabwe

Find out how countries around the world are getting mothers to book in for better births starting right here close to home

Italy police deal blow to ‘violent’ Nigerian mafia

​Italian police said on Thursday they had arrested 19 suspected members of a Nigerian mob

Aid agencies rush to bring aid to Mozambique cyclone survivors

Cyclone Kenneth made landfall late Thursday in Cabo Delgado province, packing wind gusts of up to 220 kilometres per hour

Pope to wrap up landmark Vatican child abuse summit

The 82-year-old has warned victims to lower their expectations, saying that much of the work on tackling abuse would be done post-summit
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

The Nigerian government is killing its citizens — again

‘Nigeria kills its people. Nigeria has always killed its people.’

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday