Pleas to help fight famine in Africa

The Australian Article: 25 October, 2022
Aid organisations are pleading for funding in the budget to help halt the global food crisis exasperated by the war in Ukraine, and for Labor to broaden its focus on aid beyond the Pacific.

The call comes after the government on Friday announced it would boost its assistance to the Pacific to $900m.

But Help Fight Famine Australia urged Labor to do more to fight food crises gripping countries such as Somalia, where up to 300,000 people could die of starvation.

The organisation called for a $150m package to prevent the crises in the worst affected hunger hot spots in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and the Horn of Africa.

“We accept the Indo-Pacific is our primary area for aid and we welcome the announcement by Penny Wong on that,” Help Fight Famine spokesman Reverend Tim Costello said. “However, morally we have to respond to the famine about to be declared in parts of Africa.”

Mr Costello, the former chief executive of World ­Vision Australia, pointed to Labor’s revelations that soaring commodity prices had resulted in revenue being higher than forecast.

“That’s thanks to the Ukrainian crisis, but the flip side to that crisis is that Somalians are starving. Ukraine … was their bread, their wheat source,” he said.

“$150m is the ask of all of our agencies, that’s 1/200th of the $28bn Australia made in royalties. We have a moral imperative to do this.”

Minister for International Development Pat Conroy said the government was committed to its election promise to ­“increase Official Development Assistance by more than $1bn over four years”.

“This will tackle poverty in our region, and is on top of $15m from the Australian government for emergency assistance in ­response to the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa and Yemen,” Mr Conroy said.

Opposition spokesman on international development Michael McCormack said the government needed to ramp up its assistance to African countries immediately.

He said if Labor waited for an official famine to be declared in countries such as Somalia, it would be too late.