Finland allocates $20 million to famine-hit African countries

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

The Finnish government has allocated over £18 million (over $20 million) to five famine-hit African countries at risk of death and starvation caused by drought and conflict.

The countries are South Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Nigeria, according to a statement from Finland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday.

“The Horn of Africa is facing the worst food crisis in recent history. Approximately 20 million people suffer from shortage of food and water … Finland must be among those that are providing assistance,” said the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen who decided on the amount.

South Sudan will receive £7.6 million and Uganda will receive £2.2 million for receiving approximately 2,000 refugees from South Sudan daily despite being affected by drought.

Somalia will also receive £5.5 million to support humanitarian work while Ethiopia will receive £755,000; and Nigeria will receive £2 million to aid those at risk of famine in the northeastern parts of the country.

The Finnish government acknowledged the severity of the crisis which is also affecting Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula. The Arab country will also receive EUR 1.5 million totalling Finaland’s humanitarian aid for famine-hit countries to £20 million.

The Horn of Africa is facing its third consecutive year of drought causing thirst and hunger, decimating livestock, destroying livelihoods, spreading disease and triggering large scale population movements.

United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien described the crisis to the Security Council as the largest since the second world war in 1945, and an amount of $4.4 billion is needed “to avert a catastrophe” in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula.

The African Union donated $100,000 each to Somalia and South Sudan last week. The new Chairperson of the Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat called on member states, private sector and the international community to emulate the gesture.