US plans immediate famine aid for Africa

More than half of the €548m in aid promised by US President George Bush will be given immediately to help those at risk from famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea, US officials in Rome said today.

More than half of the €548m in aid promised by US President George Bush will be given immediately to help those at risk from famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea, US officials in Rome said today.

Bush’s announcement of aid, made yesterday, came as British Prime Minister Tony Blair took his campaign to the White House to put major initiatives for Africa on next month’s summit of wealthy nations in Scotland.

The US mission to the Rome-based UN food agencies gave some first indications of how that aid would be distributed, saying that €336m was earmarked for quick aid for those facing “the immediate threat of starvation” in those two eastern African nations.

Tony Hall, Washington’s ambassador to the agencies, briefed the executive board of the UN World Food Program today about the US aid package.

Program Executive Director James Morris described the aid as an “incredible boost to our efforts in the Horn of Africa and in the continent,” the US mission said.

Hall told the UN officials that a “significant portion” of the aid was expected to be donated to the World Food Program, although arrangements for the delivery of the assistance was still being worked out.

Last month, the United Nation’s humanitarian co-ordinator, Jan Egeland, said rich nations were discriminating against Africa on desperately needed aid.

He said that the majority of UN humanitarian appeals for Africa were badly underfunded.

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