The Dutch government pledges €5 million to aid agencies' joint appeal
"Hunger threatens the lives of millions of people, most of them women and children. We are facing a disaster of such proportions that we have to do everything we possibly can to turn the tide," Van Ardenne announced.
Whenever a disaster of this kind occurs, the Dutch aid agencies join forces to raise funds. Each gets an agreed share of the proceeds for its own projects. Van Ardenne applauds this joint initiative.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs donated €14 million to southern Africa in response to an appeal from the United Nations. Another €1 million went to non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe, and €5 million to an appeal from the United Nations for aid for the Horn of Africa. According to the Dutch Red Cross, the Netherlands is one of the few donors to have invested in time in preventive measures.
This money is over and above the regular allocations for emergency aid. This year, Angola received €11.1 million, Eritrea €3.6 million and Ethiopia €2 million for relief programmes. And the Netherlands donated €12.3 million to Sudan, €4.5 million to Somalia and €5.8 to West Africa in emergency aid.
Africa is high on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' agenda. Last weekend, Agnes van Ardenne announced that she wanted to organise a seminar on Sudan's development. Once a peace agreement has been signed, bringing an end to a conflict that has been raging for years in Sudan, the Netherlands is prepared to organise an international donor conference. Van Ardenne announced these plans last weekend during a meeting with John Garang, leader of the south Sudanese SPLM. Van Ardenne had met Garang a few months earlier when she and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaap Hoop Scheffer visited the Horn of Africa.
The Ministry's policy on Africa focuses on promoting peace, security, stability, good governance and good policy. But support to Africa's economic and social development is equally important. That is not just a matter for the government, but also for the business world. The Ministry has therefore launched various programmes to make investing in African countries attractive. Two projects supported by the Ministry have a direct impact on food distribution in southern Africa and the Horn of Africa. Under the Development-related Export Transactions Programme (ORET), cranes are being installed in the Eritrean port of Massawa. And through the Emerging Markets Cooperation Programme (PSOM) 'Dryport Mutare' was set up on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This is a distribution centre through which food arriving at the port of Beira is transported further inland.
The Netherlands also supports political developments in Africa, like Nepad, and promotes bilateral relations. On the multilateral front, the Netherlands plays an active part in the EU, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF. Van Ardenne is lobbying for the lifting of trade barriers to give developing countries a fair chance on the world market.