Last updated: 27 August, 2011

Saudi prince in Mogadishu pledges aid

A delegation from the Saudi royal family arrived Saturday in Mogadishu on a one-day visit to see how best to assist the Horn of Africa country hit by famine and drought, officials said.

The delegation, led by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah and one of the kingdom’s wealthiest men, arrived in late morning and visited camps for those displaced by the crisis and Banadir hospital, where acutely malnourished children have been dying in large numbers.

“I’m very happy to be here in Mogadishu in relative peace but also disappointed with the humanitarian disaster that Somali people are facing,” the prince told reporters, adding that Saudi Arabia would “assist the malnourished children and those in need”.

Commenting on closed-door talks he held with Somali president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed before flying home in mid-afternoon, the prince said: “We have discussed the current situation and also future business investments.”

The Horn of Africa has been hit by the worst drought in decades, and the UN has described Somalia, where a civil war has been going on since 1991, as facing the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.