Friday, September 23, 2011

Top Africans appeal for action in Horn of Africa

About 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are struggling from the worst drought in decades, with two regions in southern Somalia in famine. Photo/AFP

About 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are struggling from the worst drought in decades, with two regions in southern Somalia in famine. Photo/AFP 

By NATION CORRESPONDENT newdesk@ke.nationmedia.com

Prominent African artists, musicians and businesspeople have called on world leaders to act urgently to stop further suffering and loss of life in the Horn of Africa.

The appeal comes ahead of a crucial United Nations discussion in New York on Saturday.

The group, which includes Youssou N’dour, Nameless, Angelique Kidjo, 2face Idibia, Hugh Masekela, Freshly Ground, K’naan and Bono has also urged African and world leaders to keep their promises to invest in long-term agricultural projects to improve food security and avert famines. (Read: Music show ahead in war on hunger)

A letter signed by 57 influential Africans and entertainers and global celebrities with a passion for Africa from across the world, says: “A great 21st century tragedy is unfolding right now. The Somali people are suffering the hardest blow to their bodies and souls. 30,000 children have died in three months and 13 million people are threatened across Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.”

The letter calls on leaders to fill the remaining financing gap in emergency needs, invest more in long-term agriculture and recognise governance failures which have let a drought become a famine.

The letter also calls for emergency peace talks in Somalia bringing together all representatives of Somali society and regional stakeholders.

South African jazz maestro Masekela said: “It will be a great day when world leaders realise that they are elected to serve the people, that their inaugurations should not be mistaken for coronations.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga will be the first world leader to sign a ground-breaking charter that aims to end crises like the one gripping East Africa.  

The document, A Charter to End Extreme Hunger, will be launched today as the UN focuses on East Africa’s crisis.  

The charter was drafted by a coalition of aid agencies and civil society who are asking for a commitment from world leaders to prevent future hunger disasters.

Additional reporting by Walter Menya

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