In response to the Horn of Africa’s hunger crisis currently affecting more than 12 million people, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday that the U.S. is donating another $17 million in emergency food aid to the region.
“What is happening in the Horn of Africa is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in several decades,” Clinton said during an address at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C. “The United States and our partners in the region, including the World Food Program, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, NGOs and donor governments, are racing to save as many lives as possible.”
The funds bring the total U.S. assistance to the region to more than $580 million this year.
Out of the latest donation, $12 million will go to humanitarian operations in Somalia, which Clinton described as the "epicenter of the emergency."
In recent months, the Horn of Africa—which includes Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti—has been slammed by a brutal drought that has left about 12.4 million people needing aid due to widespread famine, according to the United Nations. The people of Somalia have been especially hard hit, with many in the nation flooding refugee camps in neighboring areas for help. Years of political instability in the nation also serves to exacerbate the issue.
In addition, food prices across the Horn have risen dramatically since last year.
According to the August food price monitor of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the prices of food staples sorghum (a cereal crop) and maize are 150 and 200 percent higher than what they were last July in hard-hit Somalia. The price of milk in the nation and in the region is also up from last year because of weakened livestock.
Clinton also appealed to Americans to have compassion for brethren abroad.
“We must try to save those lives that are being lost in those brutal marches to try to get to safety. We must support the refugee camps and do everything we can to provide the immediate help that is needed.”
“Let’s use this opportunity to make very clear what more we need to do together to avoid this happening again.”
(Photo: Dai Kurokana/Landov