Ethuro appeals for humanitarian aid for starving 13 million in Eastern, Horn of Africa

Speaker Ekwee Ethuro. (Photo: David Gichuru/Standard)

Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro has called for urgent international action for the close to 13 million people in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa at the risk of starvation.

Ethuro accused the developed countries of neglecting the victims of the biting famine even after making commitments that their countries will offer humanitarian support to alleviate the hunger-pangs of the millions.

The Speaker moved the ongoing Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – a forum bringing together legislators from 132 countries – to debate an emergency motion seeking global action on the drought and famine situation in the region, warning the world that millions of residents were facing "real risk of starvation".

“The responsibilities of industrialised nations are brought into focus: they should mitigate climate change and support vulnerable countries to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, especially food security,” said Ethuro.

Kenya's bid to have the hunger situation discussed at Dhaka, Bangladesh, got a strong backing from powerhouses Belgium and United Kingdom, who co-sponsored the motion.

The three countries lobbied The Africa Group - a team from African countries - and the 12 Plus Group, that bring together about 40 countries – majority from Europe to ensure the motion garnered an overwhelming 932 votes in favour, 136 against and 50 abstentions; effectively flooring two other proposed motions that were sponsored by Palestine and Mexico.

According to IPU rules, only one Emergency Motion can be adopted and debated in each session of the Assembly.

Moving the motion, Ethuro decried the slow response by the global community in addressing the humanitarian situation in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda, where 12.8 million are facing a real threat of starvation due to drought and famine.

"It is a pity that the world is watching as millions in parts of Africa are at risk of death by starvation. The developed countries, who are greatly responsible for climate change, must be pro-active in providing humanitarian support to those in dire need," Ethuro said.

He noted that the situation in East Africa and the Horn of Africa poses a serious threat to human dignity, regional peace, security and stability.

Speaker Ethuro argued that the developed countries should be at the forefront in terms of offering humanitarian support to the developing nations facing drought and famine since they emit largest amounts of greenhouse gases resultant to climate change.

While appreciating the efforts of the United Nations, he urged the intergovernmental organization and the developed nations to commit necessary resources to provide humanitarian support and nutritional relief to critically affected areas in the Horn of Africa, as well as long-term development assistance.

The Senate Speaker however criticised them for offering lip service while having made commitments toward offering humanitarian support during the Parliamentary Forum at the 2nd High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPECD) held in Kenya in November 2016 and the Regional Seminar on the Sustainable Development Goals for the Parliaments of Sub-Saharan Africa held in Uganda in March this year.

Other members of Kenya's delegation are MPs David Pkosing, Susan Musyoka, Jude Njomo, Michael Onyura and Leonard Sang.