23rd Sep 2023

EU steps up aid to famine-stricken Somalis

  • Georgieva at a refugee camp in Kenya (Photo: European Commission)

The EU on Wednesday (27 July) said it would double its humanitarian aid to €158 million in Somalia referring to the "very dramatic" drought and famine in the country.

"What I saw there is heartbreaking, families that have walked 20-30 days in the hope to cross the border to Ethiopia. They would all prefer to have aid delivered to them in Somalia," EU aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said after returning from the region.

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Women and children, even if they managed to get to the refugee camps in Kenya or Ethiopia, were often already too weak to survive, she said.

"It's a recipe for disaster for the world to accept a failed state, particularly in this part of the world," Georgieva warned.

She noted, however, that even the anti-government militias in Somalia have to be approached and that the al Shabab terrorist organisation - a "dragon with many heads" - has some chiefs willing to deliver aid.

The International Red Cross said it had managed to deliver 400 tonnes of food to areas in southern Somalia which are controlled by al Shabab fighters.

An air bridge was established on Wednesday to deliver aid to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia where tens of thousands have fled to in search of food.

A plane carrying 10 tonnes of nutritional supplements for the malnourished took off from neighbouring Kenya on Wednesday morning, after days of delays due to bureaucratic hurdles, UN World Food Program spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said in Nairobi. The shipment will help 3,500 children for one month. More planes are expected to fly in the coming months, as some 18,000 children are suffering from malnutrition and the number is expected to grow to 25,000.

The UN estimates that some 12 million people in the region are in danger of starvation due to the prolonged drought.

Food deliveries will also go to Ethiopian town of Dolo on the border with Somalia and to the town of Wajir in northern Kenya, where large refugee camps have formed in the past weeks.

The decades-long conflict in Somalia has also forced a lot of young men to join the pirates in the Gulf of Aden, against whom the EU has launched a naval operation, Atalanta.

In parallel, the EU is also training Somali soldiers in Uganda, under the command of an Irish general.

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