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A malnourished child from southern Somalia in a makeshift shelter in a refugee camp in Mogadishu. Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP/Press Association Images
Horn of Africa

Ireland increases aid for Horn of Africa famine victims

The Department of Foreign Affairs has announced a further €1 million in support for famine victims, while Bono has joined a group of celebrities calling for more action.

IRELAND HAS INCREASED its financial aid for victims of the Horn of Africa famine by €1 million, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore announced today.

The extra funding, which will be used by Concern, UNICEF and other aid agencies, brings the Government’s total contribution this year to €10 million.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs made the announcement ahead of tomorrow’s special UN Ministerial Summit on the crisis in New York.

Gilmore said he will use the meeting to call for greater international attention to the root causes of the famine. The drought in the area has already affected more than 13 million people.

Ireland’s development programmes in the region focus on improving agricultural productivity and helping people adapt to drought conditions.

However, this additional €1 million from the Irish Aid budget will be used to provide emergency relief in Ethiopia and Somalia, said Gilmore.

“We are particularly targeting children in an effort to protect them from the worst effects of this crisis.”

As well as the extra funding, the Irish Government has also carried out two airlifts of emergency supplies and deployed 21 members of the Irish Aid Rapid Response Corps to humanitarian agencies working in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

UN Summit

According to the UN, the death toll from the famine is now over 80,000, while another 750,000 Somalis are at risk of dying from starvation and other associated causes.

Yesterday, a group of campaigners – including musicians Bono and Youssou N’Dour – called on world leaders to take urgent action to prevent more loss of life in the Horn of Africa.

Presenting a letter signed by 58 African “influencers” and global celebrities, the group said a “great 21st-century tragedy is unfolding right now”.

It called on world leaders at this weekend’s UN summit to fill the remaining financing gap in emergency needs and invest in long-term agricultural productivity and food security.

They also called on political leaders to “recognise the governance failures, which have let a drought become a famine and invest much more energy and leadership into emergency peace talks.”

U2′s frontman, Bono said, “I’m honoured to be backing vocals to this impressive leadership from artists and creatives across the African continent, who are joined together in action against this travesty of a 21st-century famine.”

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