OTTAWA - Canada's Official Opposition is calling for an effective and timely Canadian contribution to the international humanitarian relief in Somalia.
"We are deeply concerned about a humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia," said New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre). "The UN is warning that this famine will mean a large-scale loss of life in the region is imminent and is calling on countries like Canada to take urgent action."

"The Minister of International Cooperation’s recent trip to the region must be followed up with effective and timely humanitarian relief," said New Democrat Critic for International Cooperation Hélène Laverdière (Laurier--Sainte-Marie). "Let's not repeat the mistakes of the 2005 Niger food crisis, where slow response cost lives and made the humanitarian crisis worse."

New Democrats are calling on the government to coordinate its response with the Canadian-Somali community and the Canadian NGOs which are already active on the ground. New Democrats are also asking the government to move quickly and encourage Canadian donations through matching funds.
"CIDA has committed to funding humanitarian aid, but the scale and severity of the situation demand a stronger response from Canada" said Laverdière.

“This is the fifth large-scale food crisis in Africa since year 2000 and it underlines the importance of making famine prevention a key part of an effective international aid strategy.”

"Famines are undeniably connected to political decisions on climate change, food production and people’s economic ability to access food," concluded Dewar. “A responsible approach to climate change and food security issues must be a part of our famine prevention strategy."


For more information, please contact:
Sally Housser, press secretary: 613-222-5997