NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The wife of US Vice President Joe Biden is leading a high powered American delegation in the country to assess and intervene in the famine crisis taking its toll in the Horn of Africa
Dr Jill Biden is accompanied by USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwarts and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith.
According to a statement from the White House, the team which arrived in the country on Monday morning will extensively discuss the famine in view of extending US aid to help the affected regions and people.
“Dr Biden’s trip will underscore the United States’ commitment to working with the governments and people of the region, and the international community, to assist the people of the Horn of Africa during this urgent time of need, and to investing in long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the region,” the statement read.
During the visit, the team will visit the Dadaab refugee camp which is swelling with arrival of new immigrants every day.
The trip will also be a platform for the US to assert its commitment to work with governments in the Horn of Africa region as well as the international community at the same time it will further call for urgent measures and brain storm on long-term investments that will address food security in affected areas.
The delegation will also deliberate on long term solutions that will end the famine that has been a common occurrence almost every year in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya with refugees fleeing from their countries to countries that as well affected.
“Amid the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, the United Nations has declared that famine now affects five regions in Somalia and predicts that famine could soon expand throughout southern Somalia. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing the famine and seeking refuge in Kenya and Ethiopia, which are also affected by the drought,” the statement indicated.
The UN has announced that more than 12.4 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Apart from the famine concerns, Dr Biden and her team will visit the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) to support development efforts.
She will meet President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to talk about partnerships and response to various crisis affecting Kenya and her neighbours.
She will also meet Agriculture Minister Dr Sally Kosgei to ‘highlight the Obama-Biden Administration’s Feed the Future program, which is investing in country-led strategies designed to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity around the world. Because emergency assistance alone cannot solve the underlying food insecurity in the region, institutions like KARI and Feed the Future are also critical at this time.’