The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

91° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Most African leaders no-shows at famine aid conference

JOHANNESBURG — Most of Africa’s heads of state failed to turn up Thursday at the first African Union donor conference in Ethiopia to raise money for the Horn of Africa famine, leaving activists disappointed with pledges.

Of the A.U.’s 54 member nations, only the heads of Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Djibouti participated in the conference in Addis Ababa along with the head of the transitional government in Somalia, the country hardest hit by famine. Critics accused African leaders of failing to make good on their rhetoric of finding African solutions for African problems.

Activists said African leaders pledged about $50 million, but much of it was “in kind” assistance, with little detail offered as to what services were being offered.

The African Development Bank, meanwhile, said it would donate $300 million for long-term development in the Horn of Africa.
A.U. leaders had been under fire for delaying the conference for several weeks because various presidents had conflicts in their schedules.

Nicanor Safula, spokesman for Africans Act 4 Africa, a coalition of civil organizations, said the failure of African leaders to appear at the conference as the Horn of Africa faced its greatest crisis in two decades was “disappointing and embarrassing.”

With 12 million people in crisis, and famine declared in many parts of southern Somalia, the United Nations has appealed for $2.4 billion to address the humanitarian crisis. Despite pledges of more than $500 million from the U.S., $228 million from the European Union and another $630 million from individual European countries, the appeal is still short of its target.

It is Somalia’s worst famine in two decades and reportedly the region’s worst drought in more than 50 years. Tens of thousands of people have died and 1.5 million people have left their homes in Somalia in search of food. Five regions in Somalia have been declared famine-hit and another two regions are expected to follow in coming days.

At the conference, Andrew Andasi, an 11-year-old Ghanaian who saw images of the famine on television and launched a radio campaign for donations, said he had raised $4,000. Andrew called on African leaders to help those in need, especially women and children.

More to Discover
Activate Search