Wien, 12. October 2011 Press release

Waldner: “Powerful sign for starving people in East Africa”

Government significantly steps up financial aid for East Africa allocating 8.5 million euros for emergency relief funds

Vienna, 12 October 2011 – “Austria provides powerful proof of its solidarity with the starving and destitute people in East Africa. The reports on the current situation at the Horn of Africa paint a dramatic picture. And no improvement of the situation is in sight. Children suffer most under the disastrous humanitarian conditions. With this in mind, we have decided to increase our aid significantly — six-fold — and to provide an additional seven million euros for the people in this region", said State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner. Waldner was commissioned by Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger to coordinate the increase in Austrian aid for Africa at government level.

The State Secretary also confirmed that in addition to the important emergency aid, the long-term involvement of the Austrian Development Cooperation organisation in providing food-security will be stepped up. “We want to provide emergency aid to the people in East Africa. At the same time we are also going to continue our long-term commitment to the region in the framework of our development cooperation focussing on water, food and health. In contrast to international tendencies, Austria has consistently promoted rural development, in particular organic and small-scale farming. By focusing on these areas we aim to prevent famine crises from happening at all."

Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger asked State Secretary Waldner to “breathe fresh air” into Austria’s development cooperation policy and to negotiate at government level, mainly with the Finance Ministry, on making a significant sum available with the aim of saving lives and providing swift help for East Africa given the aggravating crisis.

“In view of the current difficult budget situation in Austrian, I am most grateful to Minister of Finance Maria Fekter for making available substantial funds from the Foreign Disaster Aid Fund and from her ministry’s budget”, said Waldner.

The Austrian Government will provide an additional 2 million euros (in addition to the 1.5 billion already made available) from the Foreign Disaster Aid Fund to support the humanitarian efforts of the international community of states in East Africa. The Austrian Finance Ministry is to provide an additional 5 million euros to support the aid measures and to alleviate the suffering in East Africa. The funds will be allocated partly to international humanitarian relief organisations and partly to Austrian relief organisations via the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

The State Secretary explained that humanitarian conditions have deteriorated dramatically in the course of the past few months as a result of the disastrous drought which has also triggered massive refugee movements at the borders to Kenya and Ethiopia. According to data provided by the Humanitarian Agency of the European Union, 13.3 million people, among them millions of children, are currently affected by the drought at the Horn of Africa. Reports of the United Nation’s World Food Programme indicate that the number of people suffering from famine in Somalia will increase from 750,000 to 1 million by the end of this year. According to these sources the famine will also spread to other areas in Somalia.

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