U.S. Second Lady Jill Biden visits famine stricken Horn of Africa


WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Jill Biden, the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, arrived on Monday in Kenya to visit the Dadaab Refugee Camps and highlight the need for international aid in famine stricken Horn of Africa.

Jill Biden is being accompanied by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz, and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith.

The White House said the trip will underscore the U.S. commitment to helping deal with the crisis in East Africa in the immediate future and be able to seek long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the region.

Amid the worst drought in East Africa in at least 60 years, the United Nations (UN) declared last Wednesday that famine is now affecting five regions in Somalia and it could soon spread throughout the southern regions of the country. Neighboring countries are also at risk.

Thousands of Somalis are fleeing the famine and seeking refuge in Kenya and Ethiopia, which are also affected by the drought. According to the UN, more than 12.4 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The Dadaab refugee camp in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, known as the largest refugee camp of the world, is receiving thousands of Somali refugees affected by the famine. Many however die during desperate attempts to reach the camp.

The White House said Biden will visit the Dadaab Refugee Complex to draw the world’s attention to the crisis and pledge U.S. support for relief operations. The visit comes as the United States announced $100 million in famine aid for East Africa following the UN’s call for immediate action to save the lives and livelihoods of millions across the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

Biden will also visit the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi and she will meet with Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Sally J. 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.

During this visit, Biden will also meet with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to highlight the ongoing partnership between the U.S. and Kenya and to discuss how the United States can work with international partners on the best response to the food crisis.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently said the famine is expected to spread across all regions of southern Somalia in the coming four to six weeks and is likely to persist until at least December 2011.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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