Warning that famine in Somalia is likely to get worse before it gets
better, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday pledged an
additional $17 million in U.S. aid to East African countries racked by
the worst drought in 60 years.
The money comes on the heels of a $105 million relief package
President Obama approved this week, bringing the level of U.S.
assistance to the Horn of Africa to $508 million.
But, Clinton warned, the immediate needs of those in Kenya, Ethiopia,
Djibouti, part of South Sudan and Somalia must also be met with
long-term measures aimed at preventing future catastrophes. Calling
the famine “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today
and the worst that East Africa has seen in several decades,” she said
the suffering of millions of people — particularly in Somalia — is
as much man-made as brought about by nature.
“Though food shortages may be triggered by drought, they are not
caused by drought, but rather by weak or nonexistent agricultural
systems that fail to produce enough food or market opportunities in
good times and break down completely in the bad times,” Clinton said
in a speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute
“In other words, a hunger crisis is not solely an act of God. It is a
complex problem of infrastructure, governance, markets, education,”
she said. “These are things we can shape and strengthen. So this means
that this is a problem that we can solve if we have the will.”
Advocating an end to trade barriers, improvement in credit and
land-use policies and new technologies to bolster resilience to
drought, Clinton also called on the eight leading industrialized
countries to make good on a 2009 promise of $20 billion for
Clinton’s speech comes as U.N. agencies and international aid groups
step up calls for emergency assistance funding to the more than 12.4
million people affected by the drought. Yesterday, U.N. humanitarian
aid chief Catherine Bragg told the Security Council the body was more
than $560 million short on funding for aid for Somalia alone.