Source: The Department of International Relations
Title: SA: Fransman: Address by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, at the African Union pledging conference on Somalia, addis Ababa
Honourable Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission
Ladies and gentlemen
My government has noted that the AU and UN officially declared famine in Somalia following the extended drought in the region. Following this announcement, United Nations (UN) aid agencies and non governmental organisations (NGOs) have been delivering aid to the people of Somalia and that the Chairperson of the AU Commission has initiated a series of steps towards an African Union response, including his recent visit to Mogadishu.
South Africa and its citizens have been providing support to the vulnerable communities in Somalia, based on the internationally recognised humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. It is imperative that we observe these principles to make sure that access to the affected communities are possible, given the complexity of the situation.
Chairperson, my delegation has listened with interest to the briefing given to us today by the African Union and our esteemed partners from the United Nations and the International Community. Indeed, the information on the dire situation only deepens our resolve to continue with the task we have set ourselves to provide urgent emergency relief to our suffering brothers and sisters from Somalia and in parts of the Horn of Africa.
The delegation that accompanies me here today has played a key role in South Africa’s relief efforts. I am accompanied by members of the South African Parliament, as well as Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Chairperson of Gift of the Givers foundation, a civil society organisation in South Africa which has donated millions in cash and in kind towards this worthy cause, including setting up a relief camp in Mogadishu itself.
To date, the total amount of the South African contribution, including government, business and civil society is difficult to quantify at this stage, but certainly exceeds 10 million US Dollars. To recap:
Government raised 1.3 million US Dollars towards the famine relief programme, of which:
• US$ 580 000 was donated to Gift of the Givers towards transportation and logistical costs of delivering aid to Somalia.
• The South African Government also provided free transport in the form of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) C130 Hercules supply plane to Gift of the Givers to deliver 18 tons of essential food and anti-malaria medication to Mogadishu on 16 August 2011. This latest consignment brings to 112 tons the total aid delivered to Somalia by Gift of the Givers in a two week period. In addition, 2000 tons of supplies are being shipped to Somalia on four ships as we speak.
• The government collaborated with other South African based organisations who are contributing to relief work for Somalis in Somalia and refugee camps in neighbouring countries. These organisations include:
o The Gift of the Givers which sent 32 South African medical personnel to Mogadishu. An addition 30 will be deployed from South Africa next week.
o Islamic Relief South Africa.
o Africa Muslim Agency
o Netcare South Africa,
o The Al Imdaad Foundation
o The Somali Community Board of South Africa.
Government, civil society and the business community have further responded enthusiastically to the calls for assistance through making donations and pledges to the people of Somalia. We therefore call on African civil society and businesses to partner with their respective governments in the spirit of solidarity with the people of Somalia.
In conclusion, the above is all about the short term needs of the people affected by famine in the Horn of Africa, but we also need to look at the medium to long term needs of the Somali people as the internally displaced and refugees need to be repatriated to their areas of origin and their country needs to be capacitated to be able to mitigate against such a disaster in the future.
Instability due to war and the absence of a functioning government have contributed to the worsening of the situation in Somalia. The lack of sustainable programmes for institution and capacity building also renders Somalia more vulnerable to natural disasters.
We would also continue to work with the AU, the Africa Group in Rome, the United Nations in general, to ensure that not only the immediate humanitarian relief operations and needs are being addressed, but to strike a balance between the short-term relief responses and the need for development over the medium and long terms in order to address the root causes of the crisis.
In this regard, the South African government would continue to engage at all relevant international forums to ensure that the needs of Somalia are carefully considered and reflected with other international partners, as this challenge should be seen as a global challenge that should be addressed within a partnership, in which Africa should play a critical role.
It is in this spirit, and over and above what we have already committed, that South Africa hereby pledges an initial amount of 280 000 US Dollars towards the African Union Special Fund that has been created for Africa’s relief efforts in Somalia, with a focus on contributing towards Food Aid.
I thank you.