The EU must step up humanitarian aid in the famine-stricken Horn of Africa

The EU must step up humanitarian aid in the famine-stricken Horn of Africa

MEPs have called on the European Commission to step up its emergency humanitarian aid to Horn of Africa countries facing famine after the worst drought in a generation.

Countries in the region import about 90% of their grain products from Russia and Ukraine, and the impact of the ongoing conflict on imports of wheat and grains, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs is intensifying and already quite obscure.

Before the war in Ukraine, 20 million people were already at risk of starvation due to unprecedented drought and locust plagues in recent years.

Parliament’s position, drafted by Italian 5 Star MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo, was backed by a large majority on Wednesday (5 October). “We need to move away from the paternalistic approach that has at times characterized EU engagement in the region, towards a more equitable and mutually beneficial approach to this partnership‘ he explained.

«We call for a return to large-scale projects and macro issues that puts local people at the center of European interest, with the aim of consistently and noticeably improving their living conditions“, he added.

The Horn of Africa region is becoming an area of ​​strategic importance along with the adjacent regions of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to Parliament’s report. He points out that more than 12% of the world’s ocean freight transits the Red Sea and that 6.2 million barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products transit the Bab Al Manded Strait every year.

MEPs added that the EU should increase its presence as Russia and China seek to increase their importance in the region.

The humanitarian crisis caused by the war was exacerbated by the worst drought in East Africa in a generation. The World Bank estimates that between 10 and 15 million people in Ethiopia are acutely food insecure.

Around 77 million people in East and South Africa are already acutely food insecureunprecedented convergence of overlapping shocks and stressorsincluding droughts and locust plagues, combined with rising prices for food, agricultural inputs and energy.

Most of these people live in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia, where millions are threatened or at risk of starvation, according to a report released last week by the World Bank.

However, renewed fighting after an eight-month ceasefire between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigrayan rebels in northern Ethiopia last month has left tens of thousands dead on the battlefield. Ethiopia’s civil war has also diverted attention from the looming famine affecting 7.5 million people in Somalia, according to the World Bank.

Speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell said the EU wanted “help strengthen an African solution to this African crisis and prevent further regionalization of the conflict».

Mr Borrell added that the European Commission has diverted a further 146 million euros to East Africa and the Great Lakes region to help them deal with the food crisis.


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