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'Moral obligation' to help Horn of Africa: EU's Ashton
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Aug 24, 2011

S.Leone to send 850 soldiers to Somalia
Freetown (AFP) Aug 24, 2011 - Sierra Leone will send a battalion of 850 soldiers to boost an African Union mission in war-torn Somalia after April next year, military spokesman Major Ken Jabbie said in the capital on Wednesday.

Jabbie said a five-man reconaissance mission was already in Mogadishu where the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is supporting government troops who have recently fought bloody battles with the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels who want to topple the administration.

The spokesman said Sierra Leone -- which is recovering from a civil war that ended in 2002 -- hoped to assist in bringing peace to other countries.

"The United Nations had the largest peacekeeping force of 17,500 troops that helped brought peace to Sierra Leone during the 10-year civil war," he said.

"I think we have to help bring peace to other areas of conflict as a payback."

On August 9 the AU made an urgent call for 3,000 more troops to secure the war-battered capital after Shebab rebels, who had controlled around half of the city, pulled out of the city claiming a change in military tactics.

The 9,000-strong mission is currently made up of troops from Uganda and Burundi.

War-wracked Somalia is the country hardest hit by the Horn of Africa's drought and violence has affected aid flows to those worst affected in one of the world's most dangerous cities.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged world governments Wednesday to meet a "moral obligation" to pump new emergency aid into the drought-hit Horn of Africa.

"Faced with the worst droughts in 60 years, over 12 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti are in urgent need of food, water and shelter," Ashton said on the eve of an African Union international donor conference in Addis Ababa.

"The situation is grave, and it is a moral obligation of the international community to offer its help," she said.

Citing EU commitments she tallied at nearly 1.3 billion euros ($1.9 billion) through until 2013, she said the 27-state European Union "calls on those attending... to continue to do likewise" in raising their own levels of aid.

The demands are huge, with a $1.1 billion shortfall from a total $2.4 billion needed, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Somalia is the worst hit, with several southern regions in famine, where more than 390,000 children are at risk of dying from malnutrition, according to OCHA.

The UN has described Somalia, where a civil war has been going on since 1991, as facing the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.

Campaign organisers have said the African Union (AU) should offer a minimum of $50 million to relief efforts. The AU has so far pledged $500,000.

Last week the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation pledged $350 million.

Ashton said the EU's immediate humanitarian commitment for this year had risen from 97 million euros to 158 million, while national aid pledges from its member states totalled a further 440 million.

The money has been used to provide food, health care, water and sanitation facilities from Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya.

She said another 680 million in long-term aid is focused on "agriculture, rural development and food security."

She underlined: "Drought comes on top of many other problems facing the countries of the Horn of Africa."

These involve "scarce resources, climate change, high population growth, a lack of infrastructure and market access, distorted trade patterns, and high cereal and fuel prices."

She also highlighted the role of anti-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.

earlier related report
Drought and famine in the Horn of Africa: a timeline
Addis Ababa (AFP) Aug 25, 2011 - The drought in the Horn of Africa is affecting 12.4 million people, according to the United Nations, which says that the continent is facing its most serious food crisis since the famine in Somalia in 1991-1992.

-- FEBRUARY 2011 --

- 17: Malnutrition has increased in the last six months in southern Somalia and more than 30 percent of the population remain in crisis, UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, says after a visit to the region.

-- JUNE --

- 9: The Dabaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya is facing a humanitarian emergency due to severe overcrowding, mainly with Somalis who have fled fighting back home, Doctors Without Borders says.

-- JULY --

- 13: UNICEF delivers food and medical aid by plane to Baidoa in central Somalia, which is controlled by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.

- 19: The death rate among drought-stricken Somalis arriving at a refugee camp in Ethiopia has reached several times above levels seen in emergency situations, the UN refugees agency says.

- 20: The UN officially declares famine in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia.

- 22: Somalia's insurgent Shebab say a ban on foreign aid groups remains in force and rejects the UN declaration that parts of the country had been hit by famine.

- 24: The International Red Cross says it has handed out 400 tonnes of food in drought-hit parts of rebel-held southern Somalia.

- 25: The World Bank pledges more than $500 million (345 million euros) to aid the region, as United Nations aid chiefs meet in Rome to discuss ramping up relief efforts. Non-governmental organisations criticise the donors' efforts.

- 27: The World Food Programme begins airlifting emergency supplies to Mogadishu.

- 29: The UN says $2.4 billion is needed to help victims of the drought.

-- AUGUST --

- 1: Tens of thousands of Somalis have already been killed by the famine and hundreds of thousands are threatened, according to the UN's Amos. In the Dabaab camp the UN children's agency UNICEF launches a mass vaccination against polio and measles.

- 2: Uganda may become the next country to fall victim to severe food shortages, the UN food agency warns.

- 3: Famine has spread to three new regions of Somalia. The three areas are the Afgoye corridor IDP settlement, the Mogadishu IDP community and in the Balaad and Adale districts of Middle Shabelle.

- 5: At least five people are killed when an armed gang raids a camp in the Somali capital and steals relief food.

- 6: Rebels says they have abandoned their positions in Mogadishu. On the 9 the government offers an open amnesty to remaining Shebab fighters.

- 10: The UN says about half the Somali population, about 3.7 million people, are now at risk from famine.

- 11: The US says it will increase its aid to $580 million.

- 17: Members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation promise to donate $350 million dollars to Somalia.

- 19: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Mogadishu.

- 24: Famine is set to spread to two new southern Somali regions, the top UN humanitarian aid official for the country warns.

The European Union says that the international community has a moral obligation to help the Horn of Africa, on the eve of a pledging conference organised by the African Union in the Ethiopian capital.

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IMF ready to help drought-hit Horn of Africa
Washington (AFP) Aug 24, 2011 - The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it was ready to boost assistance to countries in the Horn of Africa struck by drought.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the Fund was ready both to increase support to affected countries under existing mechanisms as well as through its special rapid credit facility for countries in fiscal emergency.

"I would like to express our deep concern to the countries affected by this human tragedy, and underline the Fund's commitment to help as much as possible in the international assistance effort," Lagarde said in a statement.

"We are working closely in our areas of expertise with affected countries in the region, including in assessing the economic consequences and financing needs," she said.

The IMF is currently discussing requests from Kenya and Djibouti for new aid," she said.

"We... are ready to provide more to other affected countries if requested by the authorities."

The statement came a day ahead of an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa to raise relief funds for victims of East Africa's worst drought in decades, which has affected some 12.4 million people in parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda.

Somalia is the worst hit, with several southern regions suffering famine, and more than 390,000 children are at risk of dying from malnutrition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

OCHA has said that over $1.1 billion more in relief funds are needed, on top of what has already been raised internationally for the region.

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Somalia famine set to spread to two new areas: UN
Nairobi (AFP) Aug 24, 2011
Famine is set to spread to two new southern Somali regions with millions of people reeling from extreme drought, the top UN humanitarian aid official for the war-torn nation warned on Wednesday. "We are anticipating that two more areas of southern Somalia will be included," Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, told AFP. Middle and Lower Juba are expected to be added ... read more

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