Kenya + 1 more

More Australian aid to tackle starvation in Africa

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER
AA 06 03

The Australian Government, through its international aid agency, AusAID, will provide $5 million for urgent humanitarian aid to Kenya and Somalia, where 4.5 million people are facing starvation.

Around 12 million people are in dire need of assistance in the broader East and Horn of Africa region as a result of drought. This new Australian aid will provide emergency food and water supplies to those most in need.

Kenya has declared a national disaster, with that government describing the current drought as more severe than those of 1984, 1999 and 2000. UN reports identify Kenya as the country hardest hit by famine in sub-Saharan Africa, where 2.5 million people urgently require food aid.

Somalia's extreme poverty and dependence on subsistence farming, combined with the effect of the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the hijacking of two food aid shipments in 2005, have been exacerbated by drought, causing widespread hunger.

A recent UN report calls for immediate humanitarian assistance for the impoverished southern Somalia region where food shortages are 'particularly grave' and up to two million people need help. A poor rainy season and continuing internal conflict have seen a sharp rise in food insecurity and malnutrition.

Australia's new commitment will see $2 million go to the World Food Programme (WFP) for emergency food aid to Kenya. A further $1 million will go to the WFP in Somalia and $1.5 million will be channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for water operations in Somalia. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will receive $500,000 for security and logistics to ensure the aid reaches its intended recipients.

This latest contribution though the WFP, the ICRC and the OCHA will increase Australia's total emergency assistance to sub-Saharan Africa to over $17 million in 2005-2006.

Media contacts:

Chris Kenny (Minister's Office): 0419 206 890

AusAID (Public Affairs): 0417 680 590