Help East Africa now: Dutch minister

18th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The campaign to help drought victims in East Africa has only received lukewarm support from the public. Development Minister Ben Knapen has made an appeal in Dutch daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad to donate more generously.

So far, two million euros have been deposited into the charity account bank giro 555 set up a week ago to combat the famine.

Cannot be indifferent “We cannot look the other way when so many people are threatened with death,” said Mr Knapen. And the worst is yet to come, predicts the minister. “Here in the Netherlands, we cannot be indifferent to what is happening elsewhere in the world. Help is needed now.”

Minister Knapen attributes the slow response to the holiday period. He will be travelling himself to the region to visit the Dadaaab refugee camp in Kenya on Tuesday, where hundreds of emaciated and exhausted Somalis arrive daily.

Overcrowded camps The UN refugee agency UNHCR has warned about the dangers of overcrowded camps. Dadaab in Kenya was built to house 90,000 individuals, but could soon be holding 400,000, humanitarian workers say.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia is particularly wretched. Wracked by 20 years of conflict, the country is worst affected by the drought. Hundreds of people flee each day to neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya.

No extra money Minister Knapen says he does not intend matching the amount collected in the charity account. He added the government had already pledged an extra five million euros to combat the famine on top of the 10 million euros in development aid Somalia and Ethiopia receive.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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