President’s Statement on Famine in Africa

July 22, 2011

The plight of famine victims in East Africa is beyond comprehension.

Millions of people are at risk of starvation caused by two years without rainfall. That has led to crop failure, a loss of livestock, acute malnutrition, and a mass migration of people.

The United Nations has declared famine in five regions of Somalia. Famine was last declared in 1984 when almost a million Ethiopians died, and again in 1991-92 in part of Somalia.

The entire southern half of Somalia is likely to face famine in the next few weeks. More than half of Somalia's 7.5 million people face a food crisis, according to the Famine Early Warning Network, and “among these 3.2 million people need immediate, lifesaving assistance.”

The Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya were built for 90,000 but are housing more than 300,000 refugees. Most of the refugees are from Somalia and some had walked for as long as a month to reach the camp.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it has raised only half of the US$1.6 billion needed for relief efforts in the region.

Canada has responded, saying it will provide another $50 million to help famine victims in East Africa. Those funds are in addition to the $22.35 million provided earlier this year to aid organizations working in the region.

Now you can help too. Ottawa will match, dollar for dollar, donations given by individual Canadians to an eligible, registered, Canadian charity that is responding to the famine. In this case, the matching federal funds will apply to all donations made during a 10-week period, retroactive to July 6.

You can donate through the Humanitarian Coalition at its website: The Coalition is a partnership of CARE Canada, Oxfam Oxfam-Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children Canada.

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor