Belgium almost doubles Africa effort

The Belgian government sets aside another 4 million euros for humanitarian aid for famine-hit Somalia. "The present response from the public is not sufficient to cover the most urgent needs", the Belgian minister for Humanitarian Aid and Development Olivier Chastel (Francophone liberal) says.

Large parts of Somalia have been hit by a two-year dry spell, which caused the worst famine in more than 25 years. The war-stricken region is the scene of hundreds of deaths.

"This crisis has many aspects," explains Mr Chastel. "It's not only about food, but also about health care, security, economy, farming and religion. The present response is insufficient and cannot stop the crisis from worsening. All major humanitarian organisations are reporting a major shortage of financial means. They can't help as many people as they would wish."

According to Mr Chastel, the situation in the Horn of Africa is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world at present. "This extra help is needed to save lives, to prevent malnutrition and to prevent more cases of complete poverty."

Earlier, the federal government had already earmarked 5.05 million euros. The cash goes to the recognised Belgian relief organisations and the NGOs which are operating in the stricken region.