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IGAD leaders commit to emergency fund

The leaders of seven eastern African states will set up a regional emergency fund to help their countries respond to disasters, including the drought currently threatening the lives of millions of people in the region. "We commit to continue mobilizing resources to provide relief supplies to the affected population [...] we call upon the international community to be forthcoming with sufficient resources to assist our efforts," the leaders said at the end of a summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday. According to the United Nations, more than 11 million people in eastern Africa are affected by the current drought, the worst in decades. Overall, close to 18 million people are food-insecure in the five-affected countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia. Livestock herds have been decimated, and most communities have exhausted their coping mechanisms. IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Its leaders also committed to increasing funding to agriculture in their respective countries in a bid to end persistent food insecurity in the region. At least 10 percent of national budgets should be allocated to the agriculture sector to finance projects such as water harvesting, dry land management and livestock development, they said. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who assumed the IGAD chairmanship from Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, called for coordinated efforts to combat the drought. "In order to address the challenges effectively, we need to detail our cooperation and develop concerted sub-regional approaches and strategies that will create an environment favourable for socioeconomic development," said Kibaki. On the peace process in the Sudan, the leaders encouraged the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) to continue implementing, "with vigour and determination", the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi on January 9, 2005. They noted that progress in the implementation of the CPA would also spur efforts to achieve peace in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. "We therefore urge that assistance to the implementation of the CPA should not be made contingent on the progress in the peace process on Darfur and call for speedy commencement of projects of repatriation and resettlement of refugees, returnees and displaced persons," the IGAD leaders said. They urged the international community to quickly disburse the US $4.5 billion that was pledged for Sudan at the Oslo donors’ conference last year. Elsewhere in the region, the group also said the decision to send an IGAD peace support mission to Somalia was still in effect and urged the UN to lift its arms embargo on Somalia to make the deployment of peacekeepers possible. The African leaders also urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to work towards a final resolution of their conflict that has kept relations between the two neighbours tense. "We strongly believe that there is a window of opportunity to resolving the simmering tension," said Kibaki.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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