EU commissioners warn challenges remain 'huge' in Horn of Africa

European commissioners Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs have warned that there is still work to be done to reduce the scale and severity of future crises in the horn of Africa.

By Gerald Callaghan

23 Jul 2012

In a joint statement released last week, the commissioners said that despite the overall improvement in the region there is no room for complacency as there is still "close to nine million people in need of humanitarian assistance".

One year after the United Nations declared famine in south Somalia, the commissioners said humanitarian aid has improved the situation, but the increasingly frequent droughts combined with a growing population have put pressure on resources.

The region has suffered prolonged food insecurity, destabilising the geopolitical situation and making it harder for the poorest people and communities to cope with and recover from the droughts.

Georgieva, European commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, and Piebalgs, Europe's development commissioner, said, "Thanks to the massive international assistance given and the abatement of the drought, today the overall situation in the Horn of Africa is better than at any time during 2011, but the challenges remain huge."

The statement says that while malnutrition and hunger rates for the horn of Africa remain amongst the worst in the world, they have been gradually improving since 1990, with the EU providing €788m in relief aid last year alone.

Declared to be the worst in 60 years, the drought in 2011 caused food insecurity, water scarcity and led to a humanitarian crisis that affected over 13 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

The commissioners highlighted the intentions of the EU to remain focused on addressing the "root causes of food insecurity", with €132m set aside for food assistance, nutrition, water and sanitation in 2012.

They went on to outline Europe's long-term commitment through the supporting Horn of Africa resilience (Share) programme, described as "Europe's way of providing smart aid".

"The hunger crisis in the horn of Africa has claimed many lives and caused suffering to millions of people"

The Share programme distributes relief aid in a more productive and efficient way by linking "immediate measures to long term efforts to make people more resilient and better able to help themselves", the statement adds.

"The hunger crisis in the horn of Africa has claimed many lives and caused suffering to millions of people," the commissioners warned, adding that to honour the victims "we will continue to do our best to assist the region in avoiding further famines.

"Food insecurity and strengthening resilience is at the core of our actions in the horn of Africa and other regions that are plagued by chronic food crises.

"We will work hard to ensure that the joint efforts of the EU, international community and national authorities lead to a better future for people living in these vulnerable areas."

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