Q. – Last week Alain Juppé was talking about mobilizing French military capabilities to deliver the aid. What’s the situation now?
THE MINISTER – Listen, I can absolutely confirm that at military level, with the Defence Ministry, we are wholly prepared for our capabilities to be mobilized today to send the necessary food. So the air bridge the World Food Programme is to set up is going to start very, very soon, i.e. today or tomorrow.
Q. – With French military capabilities?
THE MINISTER – We’ll be looking into this during the day.
Q. – Alain Juppé was talking about rotations of Transall planes, delivering food by ship. Will we know more during the day? Have you got a timetable?
THE MINISTER – Yes. We’ll know more as soon as the process to take all the food and all the necessary supplies actually gets going. We’ll see what we need to mobilize in the way of equipment, but quite obviously now that the political situation around Mogadishu is, maybe, easing, allowing humanitarian aid to flow better, the effort at the equipment level will have to focus on this because today we’ve got stocks available.
Q. – Because this weekend the al-Shabaab, Islamist militia, left Mogadishu, at least temporarily: this is why you’re talking about the political situation easing.
THE MINISTER – Cautiously. I’m obviously being very cautious when talking to you about this.
Q. – Yes. How much money has France committed so far?
THE MINISTER – Listen. Out of her own resources France has already mobilized €30 million, and then there’s the contribution made via the European Union – France’s participation in all the European Union measures. This means that today France has released €60 million to assist the people who are today in a pretty tragic situation.
Q. – After the donors’ conference in Rome in late July, do you know if any new international initiatives are in the pipeline?
THE MINISTER – Yes. A new international initiative is in the pipeline.
Q. – When?
THE MINISTER – A meeting on help for the Horn of Africa is going to be held on 25 August in Addis Ababa.
Q. – Yes. That’s the African Union one which was to be held tomorrow and has been postponed, which, moreover, is all the same a sign that the international community isn’t very highly mobilized.
THE MINISTER – You can always say that not enough efforts are being made. Today, we’ve already mobilized over €1 billion; a number of international organizations, in particular the FAO, notably on France’s initiative, have come together. A lot of things are being done; we, French, have concluded an agreement, signed by Alain Juppé, with the Red Cross.
At United Nations level there have also been meetings, and countries are mobilizing.
The European Union is also moving, the NGOs are playing an absolutely huge and admirable role. French businesses and the cereals, water, health and major retail sectors are also “all hands on deck”. So in fact you can take the view, and I understand it, that things aren’t moving fast enough, but I can tell you that everyone is doing their utmost. We’ve got a problem of coordination and a delivery problem, which we were talking about a moment ago, and which is perhaps in the process of being resolved.
Q. – Thank you Henri de Raincourt for talking to us on the phone.
THE MINISTER – My pleasure. Thank you./.