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Members Of U.S. Delegation To Horn Of Africa Discuss Response Efforts

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).

In a post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, who was part of the delegation, wrote that the trip “underscored the commitment of the U.S. Government – the single largest donor in the region – to respond to the immediate crisis with life-saving assistance and investments in long-term solutions to hunger.” He added that the U.S. is “also aggressively pursuing public health interventions, including therapeutic feeding and immunizations,” particularly among children (8/9).

In an interview with the Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday, former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who also was part of the delegation, said that U.S. investments in support of agriculture and livestock in the region are “paying off.” Frist said although the international response to the crisis is improving, the “need and demands are going up much, much faster. We see it in the death, we see it in the malnutrition, we see it in the outbreaks of measles in the [refugee] camp, we see it in the moms who are walking for 15 to 20 days … But the response once they get to Kenya and to Ethiopia is actually pretty good” (8/9). CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 also features an interview with Frist (8/8). 

“The number of people fleeing famine-hit areas of Somalia is likely to rise dramatically and could overwhelm international aid efforts in the Horn of Africa, a U.N. aid official said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports. The official said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is “working to prevent Somalis from abandoning their drought-hit farms by paying them cash for small jobs, thus allowing people to remain. Once people leave their farms, they become dependent on aid for a very long time, he said,” the news agency writes. The WHO on Tuesday “warned that diseases such as measles and cholera are circulating among Somali refugees, many of whom are too weak to survive the diseases,” the AP notes (Jordans, 8/9).