“Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, you are responsible for humanitarian aid at the commission and you just came back from a visit to the horn of Africa. First of all, I would like to ask you, after seeing such a catastrophe, how do you feel?”
Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva:
‘‘It is heartbreaking, the images that come to mind are of families that walked 20 days towards the Ethiopia border and they sit under the trees. And when you ask them how they feel, they say we are so lucky because we didn’t lose anybody and next to them is a family that lost two kids on the road.’‘
‘‘You have said yourself prevention is not sexy. You admit this. How can we break the culture of aid to Africa?”
‘‘We absolutely must. Today we invest under one percent of development funds into disaster reduction. That is clearly insufficient in regions like Africa where the double edge of climate change and population growth make every drought more damaging to people.”
‘‘The first thing, addressing the emergency the EU has increased a lot the amount of aid. But member states seem a bit reluctant to participate.’‘
‘‘We have increased funding from the European Commission from 64 to 160 million euros. This is a two and a half times increase. And member states are already coming with funding, that brings us together, to over 340 million euros. And I actually think money is not going to be our biggest problem. Money is coming. Our biggest problem will be to quickly transform these funds into food and water and medical care and reach out to a very large territory.”
‘‘The main problem is still the access of food, especially in the region controlled by al Shabab and Islamists. Are you ready to talk with these groups.’‘
‘‘I visited south Somalia. An area that is close to al Shabab controlled area. The organisation that we are funding there also has activities in six other places, including in al Shabab controlled area. And what they are telling me is that as long as there is this partnership, this bond, between the humanitarian workers and the local communities, help reaches people. There is actually a much larger number of humanitarian workers inside Somalia, including in al Shabab controlled areas that the public is aware of.”
‘‘That brings me to the political situation in Somalia. Very difficult, very tense. What can Europe do to solve this situation?’‘
‘‘Right now, our focus must be on saving lives, and now is not necessary the time to resolve a crisis that has been there for decades. But now is the time to reflect on: can we have a failed state?
There has to be a durable solution for Somalia that is based on the local characteristics of the Somali society. This is a clan society. We see that in some areas where the clans have brought some stability, like Somaliland, Puntland. The drought is not hitting so severely. We can provide help, but we have to work on shrinking, shrinking the danger zones in Somalia.’‘
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