The August 8 visit of a U.S. delegation to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “was important in terms of shedding light on the important efforts that are under way and the importance of continued support from the international community,” Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz said on Tuesday during a briefing on the trip, IIP Digital reports (Babb, 8/9).
A drought and “security crisis as a result of political conflicts, civil war and anarchy” in Somalia are to blame for the famine recently declared by the U.N., but “[t]he international community is also to blame for responding too slowly and neglecting its responsibilities in this preventable disaster,” a Lancet editorial says. “The USA, Europe, and other wealthy donors waited until pictures of starving children and desperate women made the evening news to hand over funds. China, Africa’s second largest trading partner after the USA, merely said it would pay ‘close attention’ to the disaster, and only pledged a modest $14 million of food aid on August 5, after U.S. House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, urged the country to do more,” the editorial states.
The news from the Horn of Africa is “mixed,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” reports, adding, “More food is getting through and security has improved for now, but tens of thousands of children have already died and many more are at risk.” According to NPR, “Aid groups were pleased last week when al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, pulled out of the capital, Mogadishu. That made a dangerous country a little bit less so for aid workers” (Keleman, 8/10).
A shrinking Department of Defense (DOD) budget and a shift in the focus of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “more traditional military threats” to national security, such as “preventing terrorist safe havens on the continent,” could affect the department’s HIV prevention programs, Stars and Stripes reports. While officials say there currently is no intent to cut HIV prevention programming, “those initiatives will come under more scrutiny as AFRICOM operates in a tougher budget environment, according to command officials,” the news service writes.
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, writes about her recent visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “There is something remarkable about seeing how U.S. contributions â€“ both from our government and the private sector â€“ can be transformed into something as concrete and life-saving as a simple meal for a little girl. Washington has committed around $580 million to the relief effort. Hopefully that will save a lot more children here in Dadaab and around the Horn. The international community has provided around $1.4 billion, but it’s not enough â€“ I know that and we continue to push for more support from other donors. But it is a start and it is making a real and lasting difference,” she writes (8/12).
A new report from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation outlines how the public and private sectors in Africa can work together to improve health care quality and access, VOA News reports (Onyiego, 6/6).
CONRAD and the South African Government’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) on Tuesday announced a license agreement that grants TIA the rights to manufacture and distribute tenofovir gel in Africa, according to a CONRAD statement. Â TIA also will establish a joint venture with drug maker Cipla Medpro and iThemba Pharmaceuticals for…
“Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is becoming an increasingly critical and hawkish voice on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, but he is actually a supporter of U.S. foreign assistance programs and made the case for maintaining this funding to his constituents last week,” Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog writes.
“Despite the apparent burst of White House attention to Africa from the First Ladyâ€™s tourism-heavy visit to South Africa and Botswana last week, there are still plenty of reasons that many (including me) remain disappointed by the administrationâ€™s efforts so far,” Todd Moss, vice president for corporate affairs and senior…
“[T]he problem is not just assessing the size of the current crisis” of drought and hunger in East Africa, “[i]t is also the fact that the droughts in this region have become an almost annual occurrence,” a Guardian editorial states.