South Africa Offers Humanitarian Aid to Other African Nations

The "rainbow nation" plans to send emergency food and nutritional aid to Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad immediately.

Posted: 03/23/2012 01:24 PM EDT

Since independence from colonial rule rolled across Africa, many nations have been forced to look to rich, western nations for assistance, now, as South Africa increasingly becomes a global economic force, it has the chance to lend a hand to its African neighbors.


Last week, South Africa announced that it will offer humanitarian aid to Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad, four nations struggling to feed their populations amid drought, conflict and displacement.


“South Africa has taken heed of the call made by the four core Sahelian countries because of the humanitarian crisis currently confronting this region. As a short term measure, emergency food and nutritional aid will be directly delivered to these sister countries as a matter of urgency,” said a statement released by the country’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation.


The four countries occupy part of a large desert expanse called the Sahel. Just last week, UNICEF warned that the ongoing drought the region is experiencing threatened to affect an estimated 1.5 million children. U.K. based charity Oxfam also issued a warning for the region, estimating that a total of 13 million will be affected by the dry conditions unless action is taken.


The poor weather conditions have been exacerbated by the conflict occurring in the northern regions of Mali, which recently boiled over as rebels descended on the country’s capital, Bamako, and seized power from president Amadou Toumani Touré.


Although South Africa called for calm in Mali amid the takeover and ensuing violence, it is unclear whether they plan to continue with plans to provide immediate assistance to those affected in Mali, given the instability of the current situation.

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(Photo: Tim Cocks/Reuters)

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