Kristalina Georgieva: Our generosity can end this African catastrophe

Share
Related Topics

More than 10 million people are struggling for survival in one of the world's most fragile landscapes. The victims of north-east Africa's worst drought in 60 years, exacerbated by decades of conflict, include pastoral farmers, goat herders and their families whose way of life has been devastated. Now their very survival is at risk.

The stories of suffering are endless. I was tremendously moved by the story told by Fatima last week to one of my field officers at a refugee centre in Mogadishu, the strife-torn capital of Somalia. She walked for 30 days with her five children in search of food, water and shelter.

She left her home in the Lower Shabelle region after losing all her crops and cattle. By the time she reached Mogadishu, three of her children had perished. But even on arrival the suffering continues. Every day, she queues for six hours with her two surviving children for food rations.

The greatest focus of this humanitarian drama in recent weeks has been on Dadaab in north-east Kenya, where three refugee camps originally intended to house 90,000 people are now home to nearly half a million. The government and people of Kenya have been enormously generous towards these victims of circumstances beyond their control. Kenya will soon open another refugee camp in the Dadaab cluster. The need for a global response to match this catastrophe is urgent. But even amid the despair, there are grounds for optimism, thanks to the generosity of those of us who live in more fortunate places and circumstances than the people of the Horn of Africa.

I am heartened by your response to the crisis: more than £8m has been raised in a week by the Disasters Emergency Committee in the UK. Your government yesterday announced £52m aid in addition to £38m relief already earmarked for Ethiopia. Galvanised by the prospect of such large numbers of people on the brink of starvation, we all need to dig deeper. The European Commission has distributed close to £62m of aid through our humanitarian partners so far this year, but we must – and will – do more.

Last week I made an emergency allocation of nearly £5.3m to assist the immediate needs of providing shelter, clean water and sanitation to those arriving at the gates of the Dadaab camps. I will soon be announcing a major new funding initiative, but I am determined to secure even more for the Horn of Africa. The example already given by the UK is an inspiration to everyone throughout Europe.

Our urgent priority is to help all those who, through no fault of their own, have been forced to take the long road to Dadaab. But we must not lose sight of the millions still inside Somalia who are currently without access to humanitarian support. It is vital that we reach them before their journeys begin. I pray that a decision by Al-Shabab militants to allow humanitarian workers to resume their activities inside Somalia is a serious commitment, but it will be tested with prudence.

We will do everything possible to reach inside Somalia, but increased assistance is also urgently needed in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya to combat the worst food crisis in the world today. The hour is late, but there is still time for us to act. We must seize this moment if we want to put an end to the long walk to survival facing so many Africans today.

Kristalina Georgieva is the European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?