U.N. envoy appeals for aid to Horn of Africa

United Nations envoy Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former Norwegian prime minister, appealed for immediate funds Thursday for the drought-stricken horn of Africa.

Norway responded with a pledge of 300 million kroner (US$45 million, Ђ 37 million) for the rest of this year.

"The drought crisis in the Horn of Africa is very serious and we must address immediate needs," said Bondevik, appearing at a news conference with Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim.

Bondevik said 7.5 million people are suffering from the worst drought in a decade in parts of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, with their crucial cattle herds dying off. He said food supplies to 18 million people were in jeopardy.

"I urge the international community to turn their attention to this crisis," said Bondevik, who was appointed U.N. Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa after he stepped down as prime minister last year.

Solheim said 70 million kroner (US$10.5 million, Ђ 8.7 million) of the Norwegian funds would be used for emergency aid, while the rest would go to longer term projects, such as improving agriculture and water supplies.

The minister said Somalis living in their own country, as well as in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, were hardest hit.

"Contributions to the U.N.'s humanitarian efforts are very small at the moment, and that is cause for concern," Solheim said, reports the AP.


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