“[A]s the worst drought in 60 years again devastates the Horn of Africa, throwing as many as 12 million into desperate hunger â€¦ there are hopeful signs that today’s drought need not result in the tens of thousands of deaths that we saw in earlier decades,” World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran writes in the Reuters blog “The Great Debate.”
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With the State Department’s reassurance to aid groups on Tuesday that they “will not face prosecution if they are forced to pay bribes to al-Shabab or if militants divert some food supplies,” organizations still have “the problem of gaining access to famine victims and ensuring the safety of their personnel, a number of whom have been murdered by the militants,” a Washington Post editorial says. “But the crisis may be causing al-Shabab’s cohesion to break down; some commanders have been cutting deals with aid organizations to receive food supplies,” the editorial states.
The Obama administration on Tuesday issued new guidance stating “the U.S. would not prosecute relief agencies for delivering aid to parts of Somalia controlled by the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, despite concerns that unrestricted aid in the failed state would be diverted to the wrong hands,” Inter Press Service reports (Hough, 8/2).
UNICEF on Tuesday “appeal[ed] to the air transport sector to provide free and discounted cargo space to bring emergency food supplies into the region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, warned in its latest situation report that “[c]hild mortality rates among Somali refugees in Kenya are on the rise and there are ‘alarmingly high rates’ of malnutrition,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (8/3).
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) “have developed a fully cooked food-aid product called Instant Corn Soy Blend [ICSB] that supplements meals, particularly for young children,” a USDA news story reports (Bliss, 8/4).
A new interactive map from Oxfam “shows how poor communities across the world are being hurt by high and volatile food prices. This ‘food price pressure points map’ provides a global snapshot of the impacts of the global food price crisis,” according to the website (8/4).
“The famine gripping parts of southern Somalia has spread to three new areas of the country, with the entire south likely to be declared a famine zone within the next six weeks, the United Nations said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Mohamed, 8/3).
Food insecurity in the Horn of Africa “is driven by cyclical drought, poor land management practices, limited availability of animal health services, food inflation, conflict over land and water, poor hygiene practices, and lack of dietary diversity,” Paul Weisenfeld, assistant to the administrator, Bureau of Food Security at USAID, writes…
The Washington Post on Wednesday published a leadership roundtable on U.S. aid and Somalia, featuring the following five opinion pieces:
Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith arrived in Kenya on Monday to assess and raise awareness of the famine conditions in the Horn of Africa, Capital FM News reports (Kaberia, 8/8). “Biden’s trip is the highest-profile U.S. visit to drought-stricken East Africa since the numbers of refugees began dramatically increasing in June,” according to the Associated Press (Straziuso, 8/8).