Pope views Somalia situation with deep concern: urges humanitarian aid

Pope Benedict has been following news of drought-stricken Horn of Africa, especially Somalia with “deep concern”.

Benedict is urging the international community to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to the drought-stricken area.

“Innumerable people are fleeing from that tremendous famine in search of food and assistance. I hope the international community will increase its efforts to send aid quickly to our sorely tested brothers and sisters, among them many children,” the pope said.

“Our solidarity and the concrete assistance of all people of good will should not be lacking,” he said.

The Guardian reports that victims of war and drought are at the mercy of bandits as they trek miles across the desert to seek UN help, then corrupt officials demand starving families pay for food.

“It has been a terrible experience. There were eight of us and we had to survive on just a few kilos of flour for five days. Hunger and thirst haunted us during the whole journey,” Sarura Ali said.

“The heat was unbearable so we were forced to walk at night. Every step we took was in the dark fearfully.”

Over 10 million people, half of whom are children, face starvation in the worst drought in 60 years. The situation is exacerbated by conflict, rising food prices and plummetting livestock values.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has raised $50,000 in just over a week and is working as part of a coordinated Caritas response across Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said the UN has targeted US$1.6b to pay for life-saving programs in the region, but as of 17 July the UN has reached only half the amount.


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