Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the EU response to famine in the Horn of Africa
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:
“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. The situation is grave, and it is a moral obligation of the international community to offer its help.
The EU is determined to do so and is using the full range of support it can offer. The EU continues to work alongside its partners in Africa and worldwide, and calls on those attending the AU international pledging conference in Addis Ababa on 25 August 2011 to continue to do likewise. As European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva arrives in Addis Ababa tomorrow we continue both to address immediate humanitarian needs, as well as the roots of problems and their long-term solutions.
For its part, the EU has raised its humanitarian commitment from €97 million to €158 million in 2011, while its individual Member States have made available a further €440 million. This money has provided food as well as healthcare, water and sanitation facilities. Assistance has been delivered throughout the region, in Somalia itself, and in refugee camps such as Dadaab in Kenya. The EU has also looked closely at the causes of famine, and launched programmes in the areas of drought-preparedness, agriculture, rural development and food security.. It has committed more than €680 million to the region in long-term aid in the areas of agriculture, rural development and food security until 2013.
Drought comes on top of many other problems facing the countries of the Horn of Africa, including scarce resources, climate change, high population growth, a lack of infrastructure and market access, distorted trade patterns, and high cereal and fuel prices. Instability has greatly compounded these problems: Somalia, in particular, has been crippled by 20 years of civil conflict, and the EU continues to give financial support to the African Union Mission designed to stabilise the country, and to its Operation Atalanta which combats piracy off the Somali coast.
The EU remains convinced that stability and good governance are pre-conditions to sustainable development and the well-being of the peoples of Africa. It will continue to support programmes designed to strengthen the rule of law, and build the role of young people and NGOs. The EU will step up its policy dialogues with African partners to mitigate the adverse effects of droughts and build resilience through better management and improved governance.
The EU’s commitment to supporting its partners in East Africa is as comprehensive as it is longterm: in rising to the desperate challenges of today, it is addressing the deficiencies of years gone by, and helping to put in place the longer-term solutions which can yield real progress in the years to come.”
Council of the European Union