Oxfam: African nations must step up famine aid

A Somali family from southern Somalia sit in their makeshift shelter in a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug 15, 2011. AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh

NAIROBI, Kenya - African governments must make more substantial donations to the international relief effort aiding the more than 12 million people affected by the Horn of Africa drought and famine, an international aid group said Monday.

The British group Oxfam said it has launched an initiative to get Africans and their governments to donate more.

Irungu Houghton, an Oxfam official, said that donations from African governments have been inadequate, with only South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Sudan making contributions.

He noted that citizens in South Africa and Kenya are contributing money and food to the aid efforts in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, but that overall the response from Africa has been too small.

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While Namibia has pledged $500,000, South Africa has pledged $1 million, increasing its donation upwards from an earlier pledge of $150,000. Houghton said the pledge by the South African government is not enough taking into account the country's economic status.

The U.N. says that more than $1.4 billion is needed for famine relief efforts.

"African citizens have already rallied to the cause and made significant contributions. But now we need African governments to follow their lead," Houghton said. "Most are yet to make a decent contribution and show the true meaning of African solutions to African problems."

Houghton said his organization expects African governments to raise at least $50 million.

A famine in Somalia has killed tens of thousands of people, and more than 12 million people are in need of food aid in the Horn of Africa.

The Africans Act for Africa initiative by Oxfam to get African countries to donate will include appeals by famous African musicians urging the people of the continent and governments to donate.

The United States has been the biggest international donor to famine relief efforts, with about $580 million in aid this year. Britain is the second-biggest donor at $205 million, followed by Japan and Australia. Saudi Arabia is next at $60 million. It is the biggest donor from the Muslim world.

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