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22 July 2011

Government calls on SA to help Somali famine relief

Image: IRIN  (Click on image for larger view.)

Cape Town on Friday that the government would be appealing to the South African public to make donations towards famine relief in the region.

"From our side we are looking at one million [rand], but remember it is a campaign and we are giving this campaign a four-week mandate."

The government would finalise figures next week in terms of what it would be contributing towards famine relief.

Fransman said: "We are calling on the people to make a rallying support."

An appeal would be made through the SABC, and details of the appeal and how South Africans could contribute would be released next week.

He denied that the African Union had "been asleep" on raising the alert on the issue of the famine.

The United Nations estimates that 3.7 billion people in Somalia are at risk of famine, while another 12 million people in the Horn of Africa region need assistance.

Areas affected by famine are southern Somalia, most of which is under the control of the Islamist group al-Shabaab and has been off limits to aid agencies. There were conflicting reports on whether the group had lifted its ban on the distribution of aid.

The US, which according to USAid will have spent $459m in aid to Somalia by the end of September, lifted restrictions on Wednesday on dropping aid into areas controlled by al-Shabaab.

Fransman said aid from South Africa would not end up in the hands of warlords as all aid would be distributed through UN and AU "instruments".

In March 2010 the New York Times reported that a leaked UN security council report had revealed that half of all aid to Somalia was being stolen.

- SAPA/News24