Millions of people are at risk of starvation in Somalia and the surrounding region. Foreign Minister Gabriel wants to mobilise the international community now. There is no need for the disasters of the past to be repeated.
Half the cattle perished. The price of grain doubled. The rains in Somalia had almost never failed to the extent seen in 2010 and 2011. Nevertheless, the world seemed surprised when one of the worst famines of past decades broke out in the region the following summer. More than 250,000 people died as a result of the crisis. When the international community finally reacted, the death toll was already half this number.
A disaster waiting to happen
This spring, signs point to a disaster that could be even worse. Several droughts in a row, exacerbated by the effects of climate change, have dried out the region in the Horn of Africa. Thousands of people have fled the violence of armed conflict and terrorism, leaving their fields behind. Food prices have rocketed.
Nobody can claim they don’t know what awaits the people there, Foreign Minister Gabriel said today in Brussels. Representatives from 70 states were gathered in the Belgian capital to discuss humanitarian assistance for the people affected by the conflict in Syria. Gabriel, together with EU and UN representatives, issued an urgent appeal to ensure that the looming disaster in Africa is not forgotten in view of the situation in Syria.
It’s not yet too late
Gabriel stressed that it was not yet too late. He said that the international community had to take responsibility urgently and make available the funds needed to avert the famine. In order to mobilise worldwide support, Germany will play an active role at international donor conferences in the coming weeks and will coordinate with aid organisations. It also plans to increase its own aid payments. Gabriel reported that the Federal Government was going to ask the Bundestag for further funds to this end.