Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Marius Llewellyn Fransman, on South Africa’s Relief Programme in Somalia to a Media Briefing held on 9 August 2011 at the OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg

Programme Director,
The Founder of the Gift of the Givers, Dr Imitiaz Sooliman, and his team
Colleagues from various departments of the Government of the Republic
Family members, relatives and friends gathered here to receive Dr Imitiaz Sooliman, and his team
Colleagues from the media fraternity
Ladies and gentlemen,
I greet you all.

First and foremost, let us give a huge round of applause to Dr Imitiaz Sooliman and the Gift of the Givers team for a sterling humanitarian work performed in that troubled, poverty-stricken East African country of Somalia. Once again, Dr Sooliman, you have made South Africans proud as you carried the pride of our nation, the South African flag, sky high in the world of international humanitarian work. What you are doing is doubtlessly an embodiment of one of our core values of the people of South Africa – and that is `ubuntu’.

Though this concept of `ubuntu’ does not need any translation as it forms part of our everyday vocabulary, I will provide one for the benefit of our foreign stakeholders. It, succinctly translates as “i am because you are”. It is a South Africa-born idiom that deems or characterises or motivates for unity as a sense of duty for all humanity across the globe. Once, again, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, you are welcome back home.

Heeding to a clarion call made in February 2011 by President Jacob Zuma when he endorsed a Comprehensive Strategy for Somalia through which the Republic of South Africa will assist the country in bringing about socio-political stability through developmental programmes, including capacity and institution building, as well as through shared experiences of peace-building, the Government of the Republic of South Africa has responded to a humanitarian crisis confronting that country by raising Eight Million Rands towards famine relief programme.

The UN officially declared famine in Somalia following an extended period of over six months of drought in the region. Half of the Somali population, 3.7 million people, is in a state of severe crisis, particularly in South-Central Somalia with an estimated 310,000 acutely malnourished children. The famine in Southern Somalia is confounded by high food prices and the volatile political situation of the country which, in addition to the drought, has resulted in food shortages.

In acknowledging the sterling work that the Gift of the Givers has executed in that country (and across the world) so far, the Government of the Republic will donate Four Million Rands to this not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation, Gift of the Givers, to cover the exorbitant costs such as fuel and transportation of donated goods and medical supplies such as high end specialised paediatric ready-to-drink milk supplements, high energy and protein ready to eat food supplement for children and adults, intravenous fluids, antibiotics, malaria medication, a range of other medical supplies, food items, sanitary pads, personal hygiene items and bottled water. The balance will be donated to other organizations that will be undertaken such relief programmes in Somalia.

Furthermore, and in line with South Africa's foreign policy objective of consolidation of the African Agenda, the Government of the Republic led by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (the dirco) in partnership with the International Marketing Council (IMC) – the custodians of brand South Africa – have teamed up with Gift of the Givers and launched the Somalia Relief Campaign to raise public awareness of the dire situation in Somalia and to galvanise South Africans to make donations for relief efforts in that East African country. The mass mobilization campaign is delivered through multi-channel platforms consisting of print and radio adverts requesting South Africans to "play their part" in assisting the people of Somalia who are confronted by famine, hunger, malnutrition and disease by making donations to them through the Gift of the Givers. We hereby call upon all the people of South Africa across all the sectors – business, civil society, and even ordinary citizens, to support this initiative.

Following the African Union’s (AU) emergency meeting on 27 July 2011 which discussed the current humanitarian crisis in Somalia, it is anticipated that a Pledging Conference will be held on 25 August 2011. The purpose of the Conference will be to bring the drought situation to the consciousness of African leaders and by showing solidarity to the affected populations and at the same time raise funds to this effect. In order to assist the dire humanitarian and socio-economic situation prevailing in Somalia, South Africa supports the efforts towards the alleviation of the position of the internally displaced persons and refugees.

The partnership between government, civil society, private sector and ordinary citizenry formed in terms of the disaster relief in Somalia will also have a long-term impact in support of President Zuma’s Comprehensive Strategy for Somalia, particularly in the social development, education and health sectors.

I thank you all.

For further information please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
PRETORIA

9 August 2011

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