Famine in Africa
International organisations and donors meet in Brussels
A coordination meeting on the food needs in African countries was held in Brussels on 27 February 1992. The meeting, which brought together representatives of several international organisations, non-governmental organisations as well as individual states, was convened at the initiative of the United States Agency for International Development and was hosted by the Commission of the European Communities.
Most of the major donors involved in relief programmes in Africa were present at the meeting: EEC Member States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Nordic Countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland) and the United States, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children Fund (UNICEF), the UN Disaster Relief Organisation (UNDRO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Commission of the European Communities.
It was the second time such a meeting had taken place in the Belgian capital. Its objective was to review the results of efforts made by the international donor community during 1991 and to assess the ongoing needs for food relief in African countries following a long drought and the continuing armed conflicts in several parts of the continent. Special attention was paid to the situation in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Liberia, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and southern and western Africa.
During the meeting it was estimated that greater quantities of food and emergency aid than were previously thought necessary would be required before the end of 1992 because of the especially grave drought situation in central and southern Africa. Only a part of these needs are already covered by the international donor community.
Against this background, the meeting discussed a wide range of operational and technical issues relating to mobilisation, transport, distribution and monitoring of food and emergency aid for Africa.
The meeting once again demonstrated the seriousness of famine problems on the African continent and the increasing solidarity amongst the donor community to meet the challenge. It has enabled an enhanced level of communication and coordination which should ensure the greater effectiveness of future famine relief operations.
Meeting of the International Cocoa Organisation
The ICCO council met to put the finishing touches to its strategy for a final consensus on the negotiation of a new International Cocoa Agreement with economic clauses.
Problems prior to this meeting made the European Community's job a particularly difficult one, given that the Member States diverged on which economic system to use and even on the idea of an economic agreement (UK and Belgium).
However, the Anglo-Belgian positions were relaxed and the Community was then able first to support an alternative economic system (to the one proposed by the producing countries) and then to agree to negotiate in Geneva on this basis in mid-April.
The President of the Council also played a major part in presenting a draft decision likely to receive the producers' and consumers' agreement on the principles involved. Nonetheless, obtaining a consensus on the document involved striking out all references to any specific economic system and leaving nothing more than a reference to a 'production policy' and the 'regulation of supply'.
Thanks to this compromise, negotiations can be started in Geneva with some hope of success.
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