AU Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha said they received the humanitarian aid from Equatorial Guinea, part of the 350 million U. S. dollars aid pledge made to help Somalia and the larger Horn of Africa region to deal with a drought and hunger that affected 12 million people in East Africa.
The AU officials decried the rising cases of refugee displacements and the effects of climate change in the region while receiving the food aid donations.
“We should not forget that the drought and famine situation is becoming more complex in the humanitarian work,” Mwencha said in Mombasa at a ceremony to hand-over the aid shipment to Somali officials.
Although aid agencies predict that the humanitarian situation remains much better than in 2011, when the region registered its worst drought in more than half a century, the number of homeless Somalis appeared to increase substantially.
The AU official said there were 1.36 million internally displaced people in Somalia mainly in South Central regions.
The aid supplies arrived at the Port of Mombasa from Malabo, to fulfill a pledge by the former AU Chairman, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, to donate cash and in-kind to aid millions of children and women worst hit by the drought and starvation in Somalia.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to sincerely thank the People and Government of Equatorial Guinea for honoring its pledge,” Mwencha said.
Equatorial Guinea offered 2 million dollars in cash and an in- kind donation to Somalis’ affected by the drought in the region.
The worst-hit, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, have been earmarked to receive a sizeable chunk of the cash donations pledged during the August 2011 international pledging conference in Addis Ababa.
Equatorial Guinea follows the steps of African countries like Angola, which have made their in-kind donations to Somalia since the AU pledging talks.
Mwencha noted that in response to the humanitarian situation in the region, African countries have showed their solidarity and confirmed their commitment with donors to address the problem of drought.
Out of the 351.7 million dollars pledged in cash and with 28.8 million dollars pledged in-kind during the Conference, some 8.7 million dollars has been redeemed from Member States and other groups.
The AU has received 246 million dollars pledge, which is over 70 percent of the 300 million dollars pledged by the African Development Bank to be given through the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The funds will be used to for regional projects to build communities livelihood and resilience. These include water points and dams that help make the lives of those living in the region better.
“The humanitarian crisis was driven by a combination of severe drought, crop failure, rising food prices and the persistent conflict in areas such as Somalia,” Mwencha said.
Somali, Kenyan and Equatorial Guinea officials, attended the handover ceremony. The aid is expected to be shipped to Mogadishu, the war-battered capital, in small boats.
AU officials regretted that the effects of climate change led to massive displacement particularly in Somalia, where thousands more have been forced to flee across the border.
Estimates showed the number of refugees in the Horn of Africa region has risen to over 900,000, most of them Somali refugees.
There are more than 520,000 Somali refugees in Kenya, 195,000 in Ethiopia, 16,000 in Djibouti 210,000 in Yemen and more than 36,000 in other countries.