On the Ground in the Horn of Africa

Eighty kilometers from Kenya’s limit with Somalia, the Dadaab Refugee Complex—already the world’s major refugee camp—has seen on average 1,500 exhausted and starving men, women and children arrive each day. Fleeing from famine that is now gripping a large part of southern Somalia largely inaccessible to aid workers, thousands of refugees have walked days—or even weeks—to reach help. The United Nations estimates that over 12.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, including food, water and medical care, across the drought-stricken eastern Horn of Africa.

Yesterday, I arrived in Dadaab with representatives from across the United States Government, counting Dr. Jill Biden, Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith, Senator Bill Frist and Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz. The trip underscored the pledge of the U.S. Government—the single largest donor in the region—to react to the immediate crisis with life-saving assistance and investments in long-term solutions to hunger. Ultimately, we know that it is smarter and cheaper to put in food security than face the consequences of famine and food riots.