Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa

More: Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Across the eastern Horn of Africa, more than 11 million people -- a number greater than the populations of Houston and New York City combined -- are now in need of emergency assistance to survive. Today, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs; Dr. Reuben Brigety, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); and Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg of USAID held a special press briefing on this humanitarian crisis.

Assistant Secretary Carson said, "We in the United States Government have been responding to the evolving humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa for some time, and my colleagues and I will provide you with additional details on this situation. However, I wanted to underline the importance that we attach to providing an appropriate and timely response in full partnership with the international community. Severe drought, poor infrastructure and insecurity have had a debilitating impact on the welfare of millions of people in this region, especially in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. This crisis has resulted in severe malnutrition, acute hunger, and rising levels of starvation. It has generated extraordinary refugee flows across thousands of miles in East Africa.

"The current crisis in the Horn has long-term and short-term implications. It threatens the lives of those at risk, especially young children and women. And it also endangers the hard-won development gains and the future prospects of millions of people throughout East Africa and the Horn. Today, over 11 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, an estimated 3.6 million people have been affected. This includes refugees, rural pastoralists, and urban poor who are unable to buy adequate food because of escalating prices.

"In Ethiopia, at least 4.5 million people are in need of assistance. Almost 3 million people need assistance in Somalia. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees already in Kenya and in Ethiopia, new arrivals are coming in at staggering daily rates. Many of these most recent refugees are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition, and there may be many more in need of assistance in Eritrea, where a repressive regime fails to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. The free flow of information is what allows people to make early choices that can help avert catastrophe. We urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the UN agencies and other international organizations to address the issue of hunger and food shortage in that country.

"The State Department and USAID have been working with the international community and governments in the region to respond to food, water, shelter, and sanitation needs of affected populations. As we work to address the short-term immediate needs in the region, we will continue to implement our Feed the Future initiative as part of our long-term strategy to mitigate the effects of prolonged drought and food shortage in this area in the future. The Feed the Future program is intended to increase agricultural productivity, shift away from rain-fed agriculture, promote better storage techniques, employ modern farming methods, and utilize science and technology to assist populations in adapting to increasing erratic weather patterns throughout the Horn of Africa. By investing in and working closely with regional governments, we hope the Feed the Future program will help reduce regional vulnerabilities to these types of humanitarian crises in the future.

"An especially complex and difficult component of the Horn of Africa's humanitarian crisis is the high number of Somali refugees flowing into both Ethiopia and Kenya. This is a result of three overlapping and intersecting problems. The first is the extreme climate-induced drought that has prevailed intensely for the past two years and cyclically for more than 50 years. The second is the absence of a functioning central government in Somalia for over two decades. And the third is the presence of the anti-Western terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in south central Somalia. Al-Shabaab's activities have clearly made the current situation much worse. In January 2010, Al-Shabaab prohibited international humanitarian workers and organizations from operating in their areas of control. And its continued refusal to grant humanitarian access has prevented the international community from responding to and mitigating some of the cumulative and most disastrous consequences of the drought in south central Somalia.

"We have seen the recent reports that Al-Shabaab claims that it will finally allow international humanitarian aid into areas under its control. We are consulting with international organizations that have worked in these areas to verify if there has been any real change in Al-Shabaab's policies that would allow us and others to operate freely and without taxation imposed for humanitarian deliveries. Al-Shabaab's current policies are wreaking havoc and are not helping Somalis living in the south central part of that country.

"The drought and humanitarian crisis in the Horn will not end next week or next month. As this crisis and its humanitarian needs expand, the international community and host governments will be called upon to do more to respond to the immediate and critical humanitarian assistance needs in the Horn of Africa. We recognize the measures that the countries in the region are putting in place, and we applaud our partners who have already responded generously to the appeals for assistance. As we look for ways to implement more comprehensive approaches, we hope potential donors will increase food, shelter, and financial contributions as part of a focused campaign to meet the critical needs of the region."

You can read the full transript of the briefing here.



July 20, 2011

W.W. writes:

July, 20 2011 - Present time.

Crisis is everywhere and for everyone.
The Big Horn of Africa, European states like Alabama,Rupert Murdoch, his son and the red Rebekah who are making more money then all this states all together.

The whole world is on a crisis, animals are mistreated with all those pets with noone taking care of them.
All those Lonely dogs cats with no humans spending money and buying dog food for them like before.
then we got Assad killing up all protesters and the Libyan colonel who does not want to leave his country sending tanks against civil population.

It s a great show and the audience now in one voice is asking for an ahmadinejad declaration against Tibet cos Islam can't stand for Tibet rights.

Watchers don't know what to hope anymore probably it will be applaused that Islam gather under one Red Flag with a yellow hammer and sickle on it and a spiritual guide called Allah with one prophet only named Mohammed.

Is indeed Islam turning comunist ? are they all Soviets buying and producing gas for Gazprom?

I am confused but in this confusion the only thing I d really loved to watch instead then a dish full of shaving cream in Murdoch face it would have rather been a nice naked woman running in the British parliament as in a soccer field to protest against this News of the world

New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Folks complain about what it costs to fight and win the wars we get into, never considering what it costs to not deal with a situation right the first time, for there would be no piracy, famine, or ongoing perpetual conflict in Somalia had we had the political will at the time, instead of a cut and run reaction to the terrorism of warlords.

Ain't 20/20 hindsight just a drag sometimes?

Lest anyone in my government feel insulted by a little "truth to power", I say get over it and get busy with it now!

Doesn't need to be our boots on the ground when we've helped folks to become world powers over the decades (India, China, in ex.)

Point bein' that folks have a choice to step up to the plate and prove themselves worthy of their place among nations, and we have a mistake to correct as well. But we shouldn't need to do that on our own, for it will be on everyone if it doesn't get done right today.

It is shameful to see how Al-Shebab has dictated the terms of humanitarian aid delivery to Ngo's and the UN over these past few years, and no more should folks think of such as being tolerable.

This didn't need to happen, and it has because the world decided to compromise its principals with terrorists.

How many lives be lost till folks learn these lessons from history, never to repeat them?


New York, USA
July 21, 2011

Henok in New York writes:

Mr Johnnie Carson,

Please understand that Eritrea does not need hand outs as it has worked hard to guarantee a sufficient amount of self sufficiency in food security.

Why do you insist in force feeding those that dont need to be fed?

The EPLF has a long history of quickly responding to the humanitarian needs of the Eritrean people so there is no track record of covering up food shortages in Eritrea.

Your comments show that you have a very poor knowledge of Eritrea, its history and her people.

Shame on you Mr Carson!!

North Carolina, USA
July 21, 2011

A.M. in North Carolina writes:

As much as I disagree with the government of Eritrea on many points, the hypocrisy & comments of US officials such as those by Johnnie Carson about Eritrea makes me want to puke. If you really care about the people of the Horn, stop interfering, taking sides. If you really want to interfere, you should at least try to do the right thing. How about starting by demarcating the border between Eritrea & Ethiopia?

With peace, everything else is secondary & we Africans can take care of our problems. Please, leave us alone.

Colorado, USA
July 21, 2011

Fessahaye in Colorado writes:

Mr Johnnie carson i listen your sick comment abaout eritrea situation on hunger crises whitch is not real true so please weak up if you are real man go to eritrea and see the situatin by your self then you can wittnes.
please dont try to comfuise the world with your lie.

ezra a.
July 22, 2011

Ezra A. in Canada writes:


California, USA
July 22, 2011

Jelena in California writes:

First of all, I write this with the understanding that our US gov owns UN. That means the bankers and corporations that drowned us into recession, because they own our elected officials.

This looks so familiar from the old Balkan area, where someone is bought to call a country's leadership repressive while its own people won't agree. As sad as it might sound, if our US Gov defaults, may be its good since it won't have money to corrupt such desperate individuals who are in office and paid accuse a country our government has an eye on with an agenda.

Leave them alone and lets feed the poor hungry people in the slums of America from East Palo Alto through Chicago to Brooklyn. While at it, let's get America back to work. That's why we voted you in.

United States
July 22, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Wouldn't it be nice if the US government could actually afford to help Africa?

Imagine how many people could be saved from starvation if the money spent by the State Department for parties, travel, and meetings, was instead spent on food and water in Somalia.

Imagine how much food and water you could have delivered with all the money that the Pentagon spent on illegal, undeclared wars in the Middle East?

Think of the water wells, irrigation infrastructure, housing, agriculture, that might have been, had the US treasury not been squandered in bailing out foreign governments, foreign banks and insolvent manufacturers, from their incompetent management practices, excessive spending and risky investments.

What Africa needs is exactly the same as what America needs - a truely free market economy, suitable jobs, and a working infrastructure.

When political parties and Congress learn how to get out of the way of those goals, maybe our government will have something to offer Africa by way of example.

A free market means one not paralyzed by government bureaucracy and regulations, forms, licenses, permits, approvals, studies, reports, and the rest of the bullocks imposed by bureaucratic decree. Governments in Africa and America need to re-learn the basic principles that lead to prosperity.

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 19, 2011


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