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£65,000 for the crisis in East Africa 27 April 2006

The Overseas Aid Committee of the Council of Ministers has responded to urgent requests to provide humanitarian aid, following the ongoing crisis in East Africa, with the provision of emergency aid grants totalling £65,000 to Concern Worldwide and UNICEF.

East Africa is currently undergoing a severe drought due to the failure of successive rainy seasons. This drought has affected 8 million people across five countries in the region with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia being particularly affected. In these countries crops have been devastated and thousands of livestock have been lost, severely impacting on the short and medium term ability of the local population to be self-sufficient. This has led to increasing malnutrition, particularly amongst children, which has led to greater susceptibility to diseases such as measles, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection.

The Chairman of the Committee, George Waft MLC, commenting on the Committee’s emergency aid grants stated:

“The Overseas Aid Committee has noted with concern the ongoing reports in the media regarding the crisis in East Africa. It has pleased the Committee greatly to be able to respond to these requests for emergency aid, from Concern Worldwide and UNICEF, with the donation of such a significant amount of funding. It is the Committee’s sincere hope that the recent rains in the region will continue so that the area may soon recover from this severe crisis.”

The £65,000 emergency aid funding donated by the Committee has been split between Concern Worldwide (£40,000) and UNICEF (£25,000).

The £40,000 emergency aid grant given to Concern Worldwide will be used by the charity to help purchase and distribute children’s fortified food rations in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Over the next two months up to 16,000 women and children will directly benefit from the provision humanitarian aid provided by this grant.

On being notified of the emergency aid grant Concern Worldwide gave this comment:

“Concern Worldwide are thrilled that the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee has agreed a grant of £40,000 to support Concern Worldwide's ‘Emergency Nutrition’ Programme in Zone 4, Afar Region and Dessie Zuria, Wollo, Amhara Region, Ethiopia."

Lyndall Stein, UK Executive Director, Concern Worldwide went on to say:

“I have just returned from the region where I saw first hand how desperate the situation is. It is thanks to the support of organisations such as the Isle of Man Government that Concern Worldwide can help people to sustain themselves through the difficult months ahead.”

The grant of £25,000 will contribute towards the wide range of humanitarian aid work that UNICEF is carrying out across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. UNICEF’s current humanitarian aid priorities in this region include supporting mobile nutrition clinics, a measles immunisation campaign and the emergency supply of clean water to areas severely afflicted by the drought.

On receiving notification of the grant David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK gave this comment:

"We are very grateful for the generous grant of £25,000 from the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee. This will go a long way towards protecting vulnerable children in East Africa from the risks of malnutrition and disease during the current crisis. This is the largest emergency grant we have had from the Isle of Man and having recently seen for myself the impact such funds are having on UNICEF's work in Kenya, I send my heartfelt thanks on behalf of the children you have enabled us to reach."

Although East Africa has received rains recently it is unlikely that the crops and grasses that result will arrive in time to be of benefit to those already suffering.

If members of the public wish to make a contribution, Concern Worldwide, UNICEF and Oxfam are currently operating appeals for funding.

Donations to Concern Worldwide can be made by the telephone on 0800 410510 or on its website at www.concern.net

Donations to UNICEF can be made over the telephone on 08457 312 312 or on its website at www.unicef.org.uk

Donations to Oxfam can be made over the telephone on 0870 333 2500 or on its website at www.oxfam.org.uk

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