Somalia famine: Youssou N'Dour attacks Africa response

Youssou N'Dour visiting a clinic at the Dadaab refugee camp Youssou N'Dour described the situation as a disaster

The Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour has condemned African leaders' response to famine in Somalia.

N'Dour, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, visited the Dadaab camps in Kenya which are now home to more than 400,000 Somali refugees.

Last month the African Union (AU) called a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to raise money for the drought victims. First it was postponed and then less than half the countries were represented.

"They didn't go to Addis. But then the next week [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy called them and everybody went to Paris to talk about Libya and Gaddafi," N'Dour told the BBC.

"What we are talking about is life. It is more important to the world than the war in Libya."

The UN says the famine is spreading in Somalia and now more than half the population is in crisis after the worst harvest in 17 years.

Old pledges

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Africans are not really leading the way. The leaders live very expensive lives. They need more money for them and more power for them. They think about themselves and they forget about the rest of the country”

End Quote Youssou N'Dour Musician

At the AU summit $51m (£32m) was pledged, although the AU commissioner Jean Ping tried to make the figure look respectable by including $300 million from the African Development Bank - not a new pledge.

"The African Union and the Famine - Look The Other Way," was the headline in The Economist which concluded that the AU had dismally failed to help the continent's starving people.

"Africans are not really leading the way. The leaders live very expensive lives. They need more money for them and more power for them. They think about themselves and they forget about the rest of the country," N'Dour said.

"It is a disaster. We have to denounce this situation to have a new initiative and have a different voice from Africa."

According to the Food Security and Analysis Unit for Somalia, hundreds of people are dying every day in the south of the country due to the famine - at least half of these are children.

The UN is asking for $1.1bn for Somalia. $630 million has been donated so far.

Fundraising concert

After visiting the Dadaab camps, the world famous musician told the BBC that the situation was "very terrible".

Youssou N'Dour N'Dour is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF

"I was very touched by the number of people and the way they were waiting for food. I feel their dignity was affected. I couldn't look at them directly because of the situation they were in," he said.

"I think people know exactly what the situation is now but we need more support. This is why we are trying mobilise the world especially artists, sports people, Africans."

N'Dour says he is trying to organise a fundraising concert.

"It will not be in Paris or London but for the first time here in Africa and we will invite people to come here."

In spite of the difficult situation, the Senegalese musician also saw hope when he visited a school.

"There was this little girl singing about the future of Africa. I was very touched by her voice, her words, her inspiration, her vision - it was a song about a better Africa. I am dreaming one day of seeing her in a better place."

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