Oxfam slams slow European response to Africa drought

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Oxfam accused several European governments of “willful neglect” as an US$800 million aid shortfall slowed the international response to the deteriorating drought crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The British charity said that of the estimated $1 billion needed to stave off a humanitarian disaster in the drought-hit region that straddles Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, only $200 million in new money had been stumped up.
“There is no time to waste if we are to avoid massive loss of life. We must not stand by and watch this tragedy unfold before our eyes,” said Fran Equiza, Oxfam’s Regional Director, Reuters reports.
“The world has been slow to recognise the severity of this crisis, but there is no longer any excuse for inaction,” Equiza said.

The United Nations was poised on Wednesday to declare a famine in parts of southern Somalia, much of which is under the control of Islamist insurgents fighting to overthrow the U.N.-backed government.

In all, more than 10 million people are affected and need emergency help, including 2.85 million in Somalia, where one in three children is suffering from malnutrition, the United Nations says.

Oxfam said the UK had led the way in pledging new aid but that the European response had been surprisingly sluggish. The Charity said France had failed to match words with any additional funding and that neither Italy nor Denmark had provided any new aid.
“The worst affected areas have endured decades of marginalisation and economic under-development,” said Equiza. “If more action had been taken earlier we would not now be at the stage where so many people are facing starvation”.