News story

Horn of Africa: British aid has saved millions of lives

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Although the international response has so far reached millions of people across the Horn of Africa, serious concerns remain about the situation in Somalia.

British aid has fed 3.5 million people in the Horn of Africa in the past 12 months, according to latest figures released by Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell today. But others are still at risk one year on from the declaration of famine last summer.

Britain led the international response to the famine in Somalia and the food crisis across the Horn of Africa. The 3.5 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya who have been fed thanks to British aid includes 274,000 malnourished children and pregnant or breastfeeding women while almost 2.5 million people in the region have received access to basic healthcare and immunisations with 1.3 million children vaccinated against measles.

Although the international response has so far reached millions of people across the Horn of Africa, serious concerns remain about the situation in Somalia. Exactly one year after famine was declared in parts of the eastern African country, the International Development Secretary warned 2.5 million people in the country region are still at risk of chronic food shortages.

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development said:

Britain has stood by the people of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya through what has been a harrowing year. British aid has fed almost 3.5 million people and provided health services, vaccinations and clean water for hundreds of thousands more.

Last February Britain also announced a comprehensive package of assistance to provide life-saving medical help, food and sanitation for hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees over the next three years.

Britain led the international response to the Horn of Africa crisis but we are clear that to avoid future crises large-scale food security programmes are necessary.

Andrew Mitchell also warned that Somalia is at greater risk of slipping back into crisis if the political situation in the country is not addressed quickly and he called on those at the centre of the political process in the country to ensure a smooth transition of power. He added:

During my visits to Somalia over the last 18 months I have been told over and again by Somalis that stability can only be achieved if transparent, credible and accountable political systems are put in place, underpinned by physical security.

The August transition represents the best opportunity for this to start happening in a generation. With only one month to go, it is now vital that Somalia’s leaders to deliver on their commitments under the Roadmap and Garowe Principles to end the transitional period on 20 August.

All parties must see this process through, or risk a return to the instability of the last two decades, which would leave Somalia vulnerable to a repeat of last year’s humanitarian crisis.

Britain and our international partners have supported the political process and the Britain stands ready to provide further support if Somali leaders show the political will to make progress. At the same time we remain determined to take action against those who wilfully seek to undermine or subvert the process.

British aid is also feeding 1.4 million people at risk of hunger in Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso where an estimated 8 million people are in need of urgent assistance due to a deadly combination of conflict and poor harvests.

Read the full press release