Kingdom extends helping hand to Horn of Africa
Published: Jul 30, 2011 23:05 Updated: Jul 30, 2011 23:05
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has donated SR225 million in aid to Horn of Africa countries that have been hit by a massive drought affecting millions of people.
Other Gulf states have also come forward with donations to help the African countries, where about 500,000 children are in need of urgent help including food and medicine.
"The countries in the Horn of Africa hit by famine — Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea — have welcomed the Saudi support," said Mohammed Ali, charge d'affaires at the Ethiopian Embassy in Riyadh, on Saturday.
Ali said the situation was worsening in some countries on the Horn of Africa, an impoverished region inhabited by over 100 million people.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had personally thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the donation for food supplies through the UN's World Food Program. The UN has asked for more support from Gulf states to enable UN agencies to rush adequate food supplies to the drought victims.
Appeals for more help for the drought-hit African countries have already been sent to the rulers of Gulf states including Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said a UN official in Riyadh.
"Ethiopia alone is looking at 4.5 million people in need of food assistance," said Dan Leonard, an Ethiopian official who works for the Mennonite Central Committee in southern Ethiopia, in a press statement obtained by Arab News.
Referring to the situation in the Horn of Africa, a spokesman of the Kenyan Embassy said the crisis was growing ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
The UAE has dispatched a four-member team for Mogadishu this week to coordinate the distribution of relief supplies of food, drinking water and medical supplies. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has already pledged $10 million for relief efforts in Somalia through the Red Crescent Society.
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is also working in Somalia and other areas to distribute food.
According to UN agencies, Kenya is currently facing its worst drought in six decades, with over 3.5 million Kenyans mainly in the country's north facing imminent starvation and death. The situation has been exacerbated by runaway inflation, a poor maize crop for the current season and a ballooning refugee crisis in unstable Somalia, Kenya's northern neighbor.
On Friday, the World Bank made available $140 million to address the current drought crisis in the region. So far, an estimated $1.1 billion has been committed from non-Arab donor countries, about half of what will be needed for the humanitarian response to the emergency, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs