U.S. Food and Agriculture Ambassadors Visit Kenya to Assess International Humanitarian Efforts to Assist Somali Refugees and Drought-Affected Kenyans
NAIROBI, 12 August 2011 – Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture agencies in Rome (USUN Rome), together with her two most recent predecessors, Ambassadors Gaddi Vasquez and Tony Hall, will visit Nairobi, Kenya and the Dadaab Refugee Camp from August 11–13 to assess the ongoing international humanitarian response to the drought in the Horn of Africa and underscore the need for a continued coordinated multilateral approach to the unfolding situation in the region.
The United States is working with the international community and governments in the Horn of Africa to address the short-term immediate needs in the region while it continues to press for long-term efforts to mitigate effects of recurring drought and food shortages in the future. Emergency assistance alone cannot solve the underlying problems in the region. That is why President Obama’s Feed the Future program—which helps address the root causes of hunger and under nutrition—is so critical at this time.
On August 8th the White House announced an additional $105 million toward urgent humanitarian relief efforts in the region, bringing the total 2011 U.S. government contribution to approximately $565 million for the Horn of Africa. The U.S. assistance provides food and treatment for the severely malnourished, health care, clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene education and supplies. The U.S. also works to improve long-term opportunities for affected communities, especially youth and women.
During their tenure as U.S. Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture agencies, Ambassadors Cousin, Vasquez, and Hall each dedicated significant time and energy to addressing food insecurity issues in the Horn of Africa. Their efforts have contributed to consistent progress promoting food security and building resilience in the region. However, the lack of access to vulnerable populations in particular areas of Somalia has created problems throughout the years, culminating in the present famine situation.
The delegation will travel to the Dadaab Refugee Camp on the Somali border to observe the refugee situation there first-hand, and to meet with World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture (FAO) and other UN organizations assisting refugees and drought-effected populations in Somalia and Kenya. Ambassador Cousin will also meet with international and domestic NGOs working in Kenya and on the Somali border, and with officials of the government of Kenya to highlight the need for multilateral long-term solutions to the drought in the region.