On Tuesday, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African Affairs; Reuben Brigety, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; Ambassador Donald Steinberg, USAID deputy administrator; and USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg held a special press briefing to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of…
Environment and Climate Change
Early warnings about rising malnutrition, drought and possible famine in the Horn of Africa “went unheeded” for the past year, but “[w]hat is the point of an early warning system if nobody is listening?” a Globe and Mail editorial asks.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Mark Bowden, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the U.N. had officially declared a famine in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia, VOA News reports (7/20).
During a speech to the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid out his vision for his next term, telling “trade officials and diplomats that ‘the United Nations’ top priority for this year and many years beyond will have to be sustainable development’ â€“ lifting people out of poverty while working on environmental concerns,” the Associated Press reports. Ban “described sustainable development as a theme that would ‘tie together many other goals’ such as addressing climate change, global health, women’s issues and food, water and energy shortages,” according to the news service (Heilprin, 7/19).
“Since October 2010, the U.S. Government has provided more than $383 million worth of assistance, including 314,000 metric tons of food,” to countries in the eastern Horn of Africa region, where “[m]ore than 4.1 million people have benefitted from this help,” Donald Steinberg, USAID deputy administrator, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office said the U.S. is willing to provide humanitarian aid to Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab controls parts of the country, but “[i]n reality, her hands are tied by paperwork,” Eliza Griswold, author and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.
People who have fled the drought in Somalia to camps near the capital Mogadishu are being hit by cold, heavy rains, and at least five people have died of exposure, according to aid workers, BBC News reports.
The nations in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “are at risk of ‘massive famine,’ Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Huffington Post Wednesday.” “It’s very severe,” Shah said. “We know from the data that we’ve been collecting that this is the worst drought in 60 years and itâ€™s going to have severe consequences. Eleven and a half million people are at real risk of malnutrition and famine already,” the Huffington Post reports (Hersh, 7/13).
During a Tuesday news conference with reporters in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “called on countries to urgently support United Nations agencies in their efforts to respond to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, where more than 11 million people are in need of life-saving assistance as they face the worst drought in decades,” the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. agencies have called for $1.6 billion in aid for the region, but only half of that amount has been received, according to the news service (7/12).
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and Oxfam issued a joint appeal on Friday asking the international community to provide the “political, moral and financial means” necessary to fight the severe drought affecting more than 10 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, the Associated Press reports (7/8).