POLITICS

Ottawa makes last-ditch Somalia aid appeal as matching deadline approaches

09/14/2011 01:33 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:19 EST
OTTAWA - Ottawa is urging Canadians to open their wallets one more time on behalf of the millions of famine-ravaged people in the Horn of Africa.

Friday is the deadline for the federal government's 10-week program that will see it match dollar-for-dollar the donations by private individuals to aid agencies working on drought-relief efforts in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said an estimated $35 million has been raised so far, but is asking Canadians to give more.

Oda was joined by the Humanitarian Coalition of aid agencies, which includes Oxfam, CARE Canada, Save the Children and Plan Canada in making the appeal.

The matching program will be in addition to the $72 million in funding that Canada has already announced.

The United Nations says it faces a $1-billion shortfall in addressing the worst famine in Somalia in 60 years, which has hit 13 million people, and left tens of thousands dead in recent months.

The matching program is similar to one the government ran in response to the earthquake in Haiti, which raised more than $200 million.

"I know that Canadians are very careful with their dollars," said Oda. "When you can double the impact, take advantage of the next 72 hours and please write a cheque."

Donations through the Humanitarian Coalition can be made online at: www.together.ca