German official blames China for Somalia’s famine

Edmund Downie

With east Africa in the grip of famine after its worst drought in 60 years, Germany’s Africa policy coordinator has fingered an unlikely culprit: China. Agence France-Presse reports:

Guenter Nooke told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau it was clear that "this catastrophe is also man-made".

"In the case of Ethiopia there is a suspicion that the large-scale land purchases by foreign companies, or states such as China which want to carry out industrial agriculture there, are very attractive for a small (African) elite," he said.

"It would be of more use to the broader population if the government focused its efforts on building up its own farming system."

He said that the Chinese investments were focused on farming for export which he said can lead to "major social conflicts in Africa when small farmers have their land und thus their livelihoods taken away."

Today, a written statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry vehemently denied the allegations. "China has never had plans to buy land overseas, and China has never purchased land in Africa," the statement said, adding that Nooke’s claims stemmed from "ulterior motives." The Foreign Ministry also announced today that it would provide $14 million in emergency food assistance to the Horn of Africa.

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