FAO to hold urgent Somalia drought meeting: France

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization will hold an emergency meeting in Rome to help Somalia cope with a severe drought, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Monday.

"France has asked and obtained a meeting in Rome, under the chairmanship of (outgoing) FAO director-general Jacques Diouf, to launch a special aid programme for Somalia," Juppe said on the sidelines for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

He did not give a date for this meeting.

"We have also asked for the EU to mobilise all of its means," Juppe said, adding that Paris was working on bilateral aid.

France announced Friday that it had asked for an emergency meeting before the end of July as a devastating drought took hold in the Horn of Africa.

"The succession of bad agricultural seasons and particularly unfavourable weather conditions have dramatic consequences for millions of people in the region," the French government said in a letter to Diouf.

In a visit in Johannesburg, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the drougth was "the most catastrophic" in a generation.

The FAO, the World Food Programme and the international charity Oxfam launched an appeal 10 days ago for urgent and durable international, warning that 12 million people lacked food in the region and were in a critical state.

© 2011 AFP

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