Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey conveyed Switzerland’s concern about the plight of victims affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa during a visit to the region, the Swiss press reported. Calmy Rey is the only European leader to visit the scene of this year’s worst humanitarian disaster.
The Swiss federal government is worried about the famine’s impact on people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, Calmy-Rey said in a teleconference on Wednesday, quoted by World Radio Switzerland.
Calmy-Rey is today (4 August) concluding a fact-finding trip in the region, where she is assessing the drought and humanitarian situation.
According to the Swiss authorities, twelve million people are currently suffering from the effects of drought, violence and starvation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The distress is immense and the effect on children is particularly severe. Switzerland has been providing emergency relief in this area since the 1990s. In the year 2011 alone, Swiss Humanitarian Aid contributed a total of approximately CHF 19 million in this region (17.2 million euro).
The Swiss President also visited the Daadab refugee camp in Kenya — the largest in the world – about 100 kilometers from Somalia.
Two weeks ago, the Swiss federal government said it would allot another 4.5 million francs towards famine relief in northeastern Africa.
Since the beginning of the year, Switzerland has donated about 14 million francs in aid to the region.
On behalf of the EU, the region was recently visited by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. The funding envisaged by the European Commission to support the humanitarian disaster in the region totals €157.47 million.
Currently, total EU aid (Commission and member states) stands at more than €207 million, and a number of member states have made announcements of further funding. EU citizens are also being asked to contribute to fundraising campaigns organised by UNICEF and other organisations.