EU vows to double aid to East Africa drought

July 27, 2011 12:48 pm

, BRUSSELS, Jul 27 – The European Commission vowed Tuesday to more than double aid for famine victims in East Africa to 158 million euros ($229 million), and said help must reach even the most dangerous corners of Somalia.

“The prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa has created an extraordinary emergency and it requires extraordinary action,” Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union humanitarian aid commissioner, said after a visit to the region.

The commission cleared another 27.8 million euros this week on top of 70 million euros already granted this year. Georgieva hopes to add a further 60 million.

The priorities are to deliver aid inside strife-torn Somalia, provide help to those in refugee camps across the Horn of Africa, and invest in drought preparedness measures to prevent future crises.

Georgieva described “heartbreaking” scenes witnessed during a visit to Doolow, in southern Somalia, Sunday where families had walked for weeks in the hope of crossing into Ethiopia.

She also visited the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, home to 400,000 people who have fled decades of conflict in Somalia and the worst drought in 60 years.

“What we see in Dadaab is very strong evidence that we must do everything possible to direct assistance inside Somalia so that people don’t have to take this long, exhausting, for many of them killing, journey across borders,” she said.

The World Food Programme was preparing to airlift some 14 tonnes of food to Mogadishu on Wednesday.

The WFP was forced to pull out from southern Somalia in early 2010 after being banned by Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels, who control large areas of the region.

A handful of relief groups were spared the ban but have been struggling to cope with the rising numbers of people in need of humanitarian aid.

Georgieva lamented that little has been done to invest in disaster preparedness, with eight to 10 percent of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid budget dedicated to disaster mitigation programmes.

“We don’t do enough,” she said, citing studies showing that less than one percent of development cooperation funding goes into disaster preparedness. “This needs to change if we want to be better able to confront disasters of this nature.”


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