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China pledges more support to relieve African food crisis

(China Daily)

09:31, September 26, 2011

UNITED NATIONS - China will make further contributions to help Africa with food security and sustainable development, Foreign Minster Yang Jiechi said at a mini-summit held to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa at the UN headquarters in New York on Saturday.

Speaking to representatives of more than 50 UN member states, Yang said that China has announced it would give the region emergency grain aid and financial support - worth about $70 million - including a $16 million donation to the World Food Program to support famine-relief operations in Somalia.

"It is the largest amount of grain assistance in Chinese foreign aid since New China was founded (in 1949), which has set another example of Sino-African friendship in overcoming difficulties and hardship together," Yang said.

Earlier this month, China sent its first shipment of humanitarian aid to relieve drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Shipments of wheat and rice are expected to arrive in Ethiopia and Kenya by the end of the month.

The Horn of Africa, a region of eastern Africa, is home to countries including Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, which have been suffering drought and famine.

An estimated 13 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are facing severe food shortages, according to the UN.

Somalia is bearing the brunt of the most severe food crisis in Africa. About 3.6 million people, half of the country's population, are at risk of starvation. More than half of all Somali children are malnourished, with six infants dying from malnutrition every day.

During the summit, at least $218 million in new aid was pledged to help tackle the region's humanitarian crisis. Still, about $500 million is needed to meet the overall humanitarian need in the Horn of Africa this year.

Heads of state and government from Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called at the summit for humanitarian assistance to the region.

Ban called on the countries in the region and international donors to take a "long-term view".

"As we scale up our response, we must also do more to coordinate our work Tackling the root causes of drought and food insecurity requires a long-term approach from national authorities and from donors," Ban added.

Yang said that the severe drought and famine, the worst to affect the Horn of Africa for 60 years, was a matter of grave concern for China.

He emphasized the importance of agricultural cooperation between China and Africa and urged the international community to support African nations in their efforts to achieve food security and development.

The "China-Africa Cooperation Forum has agriculture as its cooperation priority and implemented a number of measures to support agricultural development and to promote food security in Africa", Yang said.

China has also conducted cooperation with Africa in infrastructure, technology transfer and personnel training under the framework of the UN, he added.

Yang made the speech on the sidelines of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, where he is going to speak at the general debate on Monday.
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