NEWS

Obama's $105 Million East African Humanitarian Aid

Worst drought to hit East Africa in in 60 years fuels famine to affect millions, who are now seeking refuge in neighbouring Somalia.

9 Aug 2011, 06:46 PM

By: Jeff

President Barack Obama today approved $105 million in famine relief for the Horn of Africa, where millions of people are in urgent need of aid amid the worst drought in 60 years, the White House said.

Amid the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, the United Nations has declared that famine now affects five regions in Somalia and predicts that famine could soon expand throughout southern Somalia. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing the famine and seeking refuge in Kenya and Ethiopia, which are also affected by the drought. According to the United Nations, more than 12.4 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Today, on behalf of the U.S. Government and the American people, the President has approved an additional $105 million for urgent humanitarian relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, including funds from his Emergency Relief and Migration Assistance Fund. This year alone, the U.S. has provided approximately $565 million in humanitarian assistance. U.S. assistance will continue funding the urgently needed food, health, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to those who desperately need help.

Over the weekend, Dr. Jill Biden (wife of Vice President Joe Biden) led a delegation to Kenya to view firsthand the situation on the ground. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz, who accompanied Dr. Biden with Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith and Senator Bill Frist.

Assistant Secretary Schwartz said, "The Dadaab refugee complex in the northeast Kenya is the host to a very large and protracted refugee population on the order of 300,000 refugees, or more. And for that and the management of that relief effort over many, many years and the assistance of the management, we're very grateful to the Government of Kenya that has provided refuge to Somalis.

"The refugees from Somalia are coming in at a rate of late of about 1,400 to 1,800 per day, although that number obviously changes as the situation changes. And the challenges are substantial. People are coming in in very, very difficult conditions...", said Assistant Secretary Schwartz. (state.gov)

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