WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today introduced a resolution underscoring the need for a strong response by the United States to the drought, food insecurity, and risk of famine plaguing the Horn of Africa (H.Res.239). Ranking Member Engel offered this measure along with his colleagues Reps. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Karen Bass (D-CA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations; and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
“Between 2010 and 2012, Somalia suffered the worst drought and famine in twenty years—resulting in the deaths of at least 260,000 people. One of the lessons learned from this tragedy was that despite accurate and timely early warning of drought and famine conditions, the humanitarian response came too late to mitigate the worst effects of the drought. Now, faced with the potential failure of the April-June rains—a direct result of climate change—humanitarian organizations are warning of a significant deterioration in food security in the Horn of Africa in the coming months, and an increased risk of famine in parts of Somalia. Nearly 6.2 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. In Ethiopia, drought conditions will put nearly six million people projected in need of humanitarian assistance in the coming months. And in Kenya, two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall have led to acute food insecurity for more than two and a half million people,” said Rep. Engel.
“Combatting food insecurity is not only a moral obligation, but is also a foreign policy priority in a part of the world where the United States seeks to enhance regional stability and security.” Representative Engel continued, “In addition to slashing the diplomatic and development arms of our government which help coordinate the international response, the Trump Administration wants to cut funding for the United Nations organizations that deliver assistance to populations in need. In my view, this short-sighted approach would strike a blow to American leadership at a time when we can and should be remaining engaged around the world.”
H.Res.239 specifically supports ongoing multilateral efforts by the United States, the United Nations, and other donors, including the Somali diaspora, to respond to the Horn of Africa’s drought and food insecurity and commends the State Department and USAID’s timely response to early warning signals in addition to their work to mitigate impact of environmental shocks. H.Res.239 also urges the President to appoint high-level officials to engage the international community on responding to these crises—particularly at a time when the Administration lacks these political appointees to engage in high-level discussions on how the international community should respond.