People who have fled the drought in Somalia to camps near the capital Mogadishu are being hit by cold, heavy rains, and at least five people have died of exposure, according to aid workers, BBC News reports.
The nations in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “are at risk of ‘massive famine,’ Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Huffington Post Wednesday.” “It’s very severe,” Shah said. “We know from the data that we’ve been collecting that this is the worst drought in 60 years and itâ€™s going to have severe consequences. Eleven and a half million people are at real risk of malnutrition and famine already,” the Huffington Post reports (Hersh, 7/13).
During a Tuesday news conference with reporters in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “called on countries to urgently support United Nations agencies in their efforts to respond to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, where more than 11 million people are in need of life-saving assistance as they face the worst drought in decades,” the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. agencies have called for $1.6 billion in aid for the region, but only half of that amount has been received, according to the news service (7/12).
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and Oxfam issued a joint appeal on Friday asking the international community to provide the “political, moral and financial means” necessary to fight the severe drought affecting more than 10 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, the Associated Press reports (7/8).
In addition to ecological influences, “[l]ong and recurrent conflicts, poor infrastructure, misguided policy options, weak market system[s] and seasonal migration patterns account [for] the ever-increasing drought problems” in the Horn of Africa, Abeje Chumo, an international law expert and editor of the Horn of Africa blog for the Foreign Policy…
“[T]he problem is not just assessing the size of the current crisis” of drought and hunger in East Africa, “[i]t is also the fact that the droughts in this region have become an almost annual occurrence,” a Guardian editorial states.
“Despite the apparent burst of White House attention to Africa from the First Ladyâ€™s tourism-heavy visit to South Africa and Botswana last week, there are still plenty of reasons that many (including me) remain disappointed by the administrationâ€™s efforts so far,” Todd Moss, vice president for corporate affairs and senior…
Ivermectin â€“ an inexpensive, common medication already being used in Africa to treat roundworms that cause river blindness and parasites that cause elephantitis â€“ could also be used to kill mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites, potentially “provid[ing] another useful weapon in the armory against a disease that kills around 800,000 a year, most of them small children and pregnant women,” the Guardian’s “Global Health Blog” reports (Boseley, 7/6).
High rates of malnutrition in the Horn of Africa, combined with violence in Somali, “are threatening ‘a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions,’ the UNHCR warned” on Wednesday, the AFP/Daily Telegraph/Vancouver Sun reports. More than 12 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda have been hit by severe drought and rising food prices, forcing thousands to leave their homes and seek assistance in already-overflowing refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, the newspaper notes (Flood, 7/7).
“Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is becoming an increasingly critical and hawkish voice on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, but he is actually a supporter of U.S. foreign assistance programs and made the case for maintaining this funding to his constituents last week,” Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog writes.