Costa Rica offers to help by sending experts to starving Africa

The country has offered to field a team of experts in agronomy, veterinarian science and general technicians to aid those facing a humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The offer came Monday from Fernando Sánchez, Costa Rica’s representative in Rome at a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization meeting. He said the organization estimates that famine is affecting 12 million persons there.

He called the death of human beings due to hunger a scandal and said it was inhumane and unacceptable. There was no indication when such a team would leave for Africa. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto here reported on his offer.

The meeting was an emergency one of U.N. aid agencies and charities at the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organization

The U.N. World Food Program announced that it would begin an airlift of food aid today into the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as well as to eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya on the border with Somalia.

An estimated 3.7 million people in Somalia, around a third of the population, are on the brink of starvation. Millions more in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have been struck by the worst drought in the region in 60 years.
Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program, said that a deadly combination of natural disaster and regional conflict had created this emergency, with soaring levels of malnutrition.

His food program has ranked this as the most critical food emergency in the world, he said, adding: “Last week I designated the Horn of Africa a Level 3 emergency. There is no higher for us. The scope of this is 13 million people.”

Jacques Diouf, who hosted the emergency meeting, said the catastrophic situation in Somalia demands massive and urgent international aid. He heads the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Diouf said it is imperative to stop the famine that afflicts the Horn of Africa and in particular southern Somalia.

French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said donor countries would hold talks to step up aid pledges in the Kenyan capital on Wednesday. He called for action to bring down high food prices on international markets.

Le Maire said if the necessary measures are not taken, famine would be the scandal of this century.

Officials say that the U.N. has received some $1 billion since first launching an appeal for the region in November 2010. But they added that a billion more is needed by the end of the year to cope with the emergency.

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