TORONTO – The humanitarian crisis plaguing Somalia was officially declared a famine Wednesday by the United Nations.
Twelve million people are at risk of starvation, and tens of thousands of Somalis are feared dead in what U.N. officials have called the worst famine in 20 years.
“Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas,” said Mark Bowden, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
The Horn of Africa is buckling under the weight of war, poverty, high food and land prices and, in some regions, the worst drought in 60 years.
The U.N. estimates about $300 million is needed over the next two months to provide an adequate response to famine-affected areas.
Between $800 million and $1 billion will be required to combat the crisis, according to the aid agency Oxfam.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed how humanitarian agencies urgently need donations to help save lives.
“If funding is not made available for humanitarian interventions now, the famine is likely to continue and spread,” he said.
The international community is stepping up contributions to provide emergency aid, food and medical supplies.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has provided over $22 million for humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa.
International Co-Operation Minister Bev Oda is in Kenya to see the overflowing refugee camps firsthand. Oda is expected to announce further Canadian aid contributions on Friday.
Thus far, Canada has contributed $600 million to fight hunger worldwide.
Total foreign aid to Africa amounts to $2.16 billion. The Harper government pledged $2.85 billion over five years for maternal, newborn and child health worldwide, of which 80 per cent will go to Africa.
NOTE: International contribution figures below are in U.S. dollars.
The U.S. will provide an additional $28 million in emergency funding. That’s on top of the $431 million in assistance already given this year.
One of the largest Somali aid funders, Britain has already pledged over $38 million before the humanitarian crisis began, according to European Commission figures.
Britain’s government has pledged over $145million for drought relief.
Nearly $34 million has been donated by private British citizens.
Sweden has already given approximately $17 million to Somalia for drought aid.
Spain has pledged nearly $10 million and Germany will send approximately $8.5 million in new aid.
Switzerland will send approximately $5 million. It has already sent $17 million to the Horn of Africa since the beginning of the year.
Japan said Tuesday that it was donating over $5 million in aid.
On Wednesday, Australia announced it would boost aid to Africa by $30 million. That’s in addition to $11 million promised last week.
To make a contribution to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, please visit one of the aid agencies below:
Donate to: United Nations World Food Program
Donate to: Oxfam Canada
Donate to: UNICEF Canada
Donate to: Save the Children Canada
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