Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has challenged delegates at a Pledging Conference in Addis Ababa, to rise up to the challenge and convince “the rest of the world that we are not incapable of supporting our own when the need to raise urgent funds for famine victims in the Horn of Africa arises.”

Delivering his address as African Union High Representative for Somalia and Face of the Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa, President Rawlings said Africa must also take the opportunity to explore avenues to permanently end the conflict in Somalia.

“Over 12 million people face starvation and need help, but to minimise this debilitating scourge we must look at permanently resolving the situation in Somalia, which has affected this region. We must take this opportunity to jointly seek a permanent solution to the Somalia crisis. Allowing the TFG to operate in a state of perpetual transition will give ammunition for further conflict and mitigate the minimal successes chalked, President Rawlings said.

President Rawlings whose address was interspersed with applause also received praise from Nigeria for his efforts at sensitizing the continent on the humanitarian crisis.

Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru in announcing Nigeria’s pledge of two million dollars expressed his country’s gratitude to President Rawlings for his ‘untiring efforts’ at sensitizing the continent on the dire situation in the Horn of Africa.

President Rawlings also met and interacted with 11-year-old Andrew Andasi who raised $4000 for Somali children.

The Pledging Conference raised $350 million on Thursday.

Below is full text of President Rawlings’ address .

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA AND AFRICAN UNION HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOMALIA
PLEDGING CONFERENCE FOR COUNTRIES OF HORN OF AFRICA AFFECTED BY DROUGHT AND FAMINE, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
25 AUGUST 2011

Your Excellency Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, our host, Your Excellency Nguema Mbasogo, Chairperson of the African Union, Your Excellency Jean Ping, Your Excellency Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for your overwhelming presence at this conference today.

The entire world is looking up to Africa today and your presence here is enough commitment to our determination to buck the trend and make a profound and significant statement on the desire of Africa to take responsibility for her problems.

About six weeks ago I was in Mogadishu to see firsthand the humanitarian situation that threatened to engulf the country. It was a sad and painful experience.

The desperate call made on behalf of the people of Somalia was further supported by the Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping and in consultation with the Chairman of the African Union, President Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea it was decided a pledging conference be convened to seek support not only from African governments, but seek significant contributions from Corporate Africa.

The past few weeks have seen my team and I travel to several regional leaders to solicit their support and seek counsel on the way forward. I must say it has been a very illuminating exercise.

The common theme during our meetings with the various Presidents was an appreciation of the need for Africa to rise up to the challenge and take a stronger position on issues affecting the destiny of our people.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, your presence here today is therefore not just an opportunity to make pledges, however modest, to the famine afflicting the Horn of Africa, but to send a convincing message to the rest of the world that we are not incapable of supporting our own when the need arises.

Ladies and gentleman to resolve the humanitarian crises we definitely need significant resources. Over 12 million people face starvation and need help, but to minimise this debilitating scourge we must look at permanently resolving the situation in Somalia, which has affected this region. We must take this opportunity to jointly seek a permanent solution to the Somalia crisis. Allowing the TFG to operate in a state of perpetual transition will give ammunition for further conflict and mitigate the minimal successes chalked.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not beyond our means. If we can converge here in response to the famine affecting our dear brothers and sisters, then we can also respond to the call to join forces to find a permanent solution to the Somalia issue.
AMISOM forces comprising mostly of Ugandan and Burundian troops, TFG and other allied forces, under equipped as they are, have done a significant job of making Mogadishu a safe haven for Somalis and opened new corridors for distribution of humanitarian aid.

Let us join hands in congratulating them and also seek ways of beefing up the force to enable us create access to other regions of Somalia, while at the same time seeking lasting solutions through negotiation and consensus.

We have to be grateful for the strong role IGAD has played in making these significant achievements.

I wish to thank all those African countries such as Algeria and Sudan who have already made significant pledges.

I cannot fail to thank the government and people of Turkey for the huge donation of over 175 million dollars to the relief effort and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan for his extraordinary visit to Somalia. It served as a psychological boost. The organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) under the leadership of Turkey has also pledged 350 million dollars.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: the list is endless but let me recognise the role of the United Kingdom, the United States, the UN, OXFAM, donor agencies and many many others for their support.

More importantly let us join hands in expressing gratitude to individuals across the world, Kenyans, British, Australians, Turkish, many of whom have been donating through text messages daily.

And finally I have been informed that the Peace and Security Council is meeting tomorrow to focus on the situation in Libya. We look forward to an African response to the stressful situation we find ourselves in.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen, we are counting on you.
Thank you.

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