News / Africa

    US Officials Visit Somali Refugees, Press for Famine Assistance

    Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, sits with Somali refugees at a UNHCR screening center on the outskirts of Ifo camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Aug. 8, 2011.
    Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, sits with Somali refugees at a UNHCR screening center on the outskirts of Ifo camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kms (60 miles) from the Somali border, Aug. 8, 2011.

    U.S. officials and politicians say the need for famine aid in Somalia is growing faster than food shipments can arrive. Jill Biden, the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, led a group of officials to a refugee camp in Kenya where more than 400,000 Somali refugees have fled the drought and famine in their homeland.   

    A day after visiting the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, former U.S. Senator Bill Frist was back in Washington Tuesday, saying more must be done to help famine victims. "A lot of people don't realize, especially in this environment of what's happening in terms of the economy here and at home, that this is the most acute food security emergency anywhere in the world now and in recent years," he said.

    Aid groups say more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are in need of care as a result of the region's worst drought in 60 years.   

    To call attention to the famine, Frist joined Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and several other officials in visiting the camp on Monday, the same day the White House announced an additional $105 million in drought assistance for Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

    "The crisis is growing fast, and we saw that firsthand on the ground, talking to individual families as they were coming into refugee camps who literally had walked for 15 and 16 days - a mom with her four children; a husband, a father who is absent who is still in Somalia.  They don't know whether or not he's alive," Frist said.  

    The U.S. Agency for International Development says there is now famine in five areas of southern Somalia, and that famine is likely to spread throughout the south before the rains begin in October.

    Aid agencies say 29,000 children under the age of five have died in the past 90 days.  More than 600,000 Somalis have already fled their country.

    U.S. officials estimate 480,000 refugees are in Kenya, with about 420,000 of them in eastern Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex. The numbers continue to climb, with 1,400 to 1,800 refugees arriving each day.

    Gayle Smith, a special assistant to President Barack Obama, was on the trip. She wants people to know that relief efforts have worked in the past and continue to do so.

    "That we can get assistance to people, that the people in Ethiopia and Kenya, while adversely affected, are in a better position today than they might have been because of things that have been done over the last 10 years," Smith said.

    Smith noted that programs have been put in place by USAID, donors and governments to ensure people are less vulnerable to droughts.  She highlighted the U.S.-supported Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute, which works to improve food security.

    Aid efforts had been complicated by the presence of the Islamist militant group al-Shabab in the country. The group has opposed aid and Smith says aid groups welcomed al-Shabab's recent withdrawal from the capital city.

    "The move of al-Shabab out of Mogadishu is a good sign.  It's too early to tell whether it is a good and lasting sign, but it does offer the possibility of getting more assistance in through Mogadishu and to assist people there because one of the things we've seen is the congregation of internally displaced people as Somalis move into Mogadishu in search of assistance," Smith said.

    The U.S. is urging governments to give generously to all United Nations relief agencies.  The United States has provided approximately $565 million this fiscal year to help meet humanitarian needs in the drought region.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora