Australia works with World Food Programme to save lives in the Horn of Africa

Joint media release

  • Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Kevin Rudd

25 July 2011

The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister today announced the Government will provide $20 million in additional emergency humanitarian support for the 11.6 million people affected by the looming catastrophe in the Horn of Africa.

The United Nations estimates that this is the most severe food security challenge in Africa for 20 years. But if we learn lessons from the past and act fast, we can save hundreds of thousands of lives.

UNICEF has labelled the situation the "children's famine", with reports saying that two million young children across the Horn of Africa are malnourished and in need of immediate help.

Minister Rudd visited Gedo region in southern Somalia, one of the worst affected areas in the crisis. In parts of this region, more than 50% of children are malnourished.

There are more than half a million Somalis in the refugee camps, and 50,000 arrived last month alone – with nearly half of the children under five starving.

Minister Rudd, who is travelling with World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran, witnessed firsthand the difficulty in delivering aid to the region and paid tribute to World Food Programme and other humanitarian agencies that are working in difficult conditions. Operations in Somalia are among the highest risk in the world. Tragically, since 2008, fourteen WFP relief workers have been killed there.

The Australian Government channels its support through trusted partners to get life-saving help to those who need it most. Australia’s additional support will help the WFP scale up their operations to assist an additional 2.2 million people in the previously inaccessible south of the country. The WFP have also allocated $22 million to the Horn of Africa famine from Australia's annual core commitment to the agency.

This brings Australia's total commitment to the crisis to more than $80 million.

The UN estimates total humanitarian requirements for the response to this crisis to be around US$1.8 billion, of which only one half is currently funded. 

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