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Jill Biden Leads U.S. Delegation To Kenya To Assess Conditions In Horn Of Africa

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).

“Somali government soldiers and African Union (A.U.) peacekeepers have moved tentatively to secure former rebel-held areas in Mogadishu, a day after al-Shabab insurgents announced a retreat from the city,” the Guardian reports (Rice, 8/7). The city is “in the hands of the government for the first time in years … raising hopes that aid groups could now deliver aid to more famine victims unfettered,” according to the New York Times (Gettleman/Ibrahim, 8/6).

UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, on Saturday warned of an “alarming” measles outbreak at a Somali refugee camp in Ethiopia, saying in a statement that it “fears the outbreak could lead to high mortality and serious illness in an already vulnerable refugee population whose overall health was already fragile,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C notes (8/6). UNICEF and the WHO, in conjunction with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, began a massive vaccination campaign with “plan[s] to vaccinate all children six months to 15 years old, in the Kobe camp, which is [the] most affected of three refugee camps in the Dollo Ado region,” the Epoch Times writes (Liao, 8/7).

U.N. agencies “are ramping up efforts to meet the rising humanitarian needs, especially nutrition for the youngest among them,” the U.N. News Centre reports. As they arrive at the camps in Dadaab, Kenya, the World Food Programme supplies refugees with food rations, cooking utensils, blankets and soap, and UNICEF is “delivering life-saving support in health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and child protection,” according to the news service. An estimated 76,000 refugees have arrived in the camps in the past two months alone, according to UNHCR, the news service notes (8/5).