Jill Biden to visit largest refugee camp in effort to feed Horn of Africa's hungry
The United Nations says almost half the Somali children arriving at Dadaab refugee complex are malnourished. Many die en route.
August 8th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Jill Biden to visit largest refugee camp in effort to feed Horn of Africa's hungry

Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, is in Kenya with former Republican Sen. Bill Frist and other dignitaries to emphasize the U.S. government's commitment to tackling the famine that has left more than 12 million East Africans in need of food.

During her trip, Biden will visit the Dadaab refugee complex, a camp that receives more than 1,000 Somalis a day and is home to more than 400,000 displaced people. The camp is designed to accommodate about 90,000 refugees.

The region is facing its worst drought in six decades, and the United Nations has declared a state of famine in five regions of Somalia with warnings that the situation is deteriorating and could easily spread. Though food insecurity is also affecting Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Ethiopia, the greatest concerns emanate from war-torn Somalia, which has known no central government since 1991.

The United Nations is working to round up $2.5 billion to address the situation, which the organization says could be ongoing for six months or more.

Biden's trip to Dadaab aims to draw attention to the plight of the Horn of Africa and highlight the Feed the Future program, a U.S. government effort aimed at "helping countries transform their own agricultural sectors to grow enough food sustainably to feed their people." She also will visit Nairobi's Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and meet with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei.

To help illuminate the problems facing the overcrowded Dadaab camp, the world's largest refugee complex, Oxfam last month provided a tour of the camp and interviewed people seeking refuge there. The situation has only worsened since then, and the United Nations said reports of children dying en route to the camp are "disturbingly common." The agency further said that almost half the children arriving from southern Somalia are malnourished.

Efforts to supply aid to Somalia have been vexed of late by al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group that controls much of south and central Somalia and had previously controlled a large chunk of the capital, Mogadishu. The United Nations recently reported that the group, which has called the famine an invention of the West, made up to $100 million a year off extortion, illegal taxation and other fees. Included were taxes on humanitarian aid going into Mogadishu.

Two developments of late may provide some hope for the Horn of Africa's hungry: The United States has relaxed rules that would provide for prosecution of any group providing aid that fell into al-Shabaab's hands, just days before the militants said they were retreating from Mogadishu after heavy fighting with government and African Union troops. Al-Shabaab said the withdrawal was merely a "change in tactics."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees airlifted aid into the capital for the first time in five years Monday. The flight carried 34 tons of aid, including improvised tent sheets, sleeping mats, blankets, water containers and food utensils. Another similar flight is slated for Thursday, and a third planned flight will deliver high-energy biscuits, the refugee agency said.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Famine • Food • Health • Joe Biden • Kenya • Nutrition • Politics • Security • Somalia • Terrorism • United Nations • World
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Phantom II

    Feed our hungry first!

    August 8, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. John Galt

    How about an effort to FEED the poor and hungry of AMERICA??

    August 8, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Justinstl

    So why do we spend money rebuilding Iraqs infastructure and let people starve here and in this poverty stricken country? Why not pull our troops out of the middle east and put them in Africa where they can do real good for the people.

    August 8, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Phantom II

    John Galt, I thought I'd been clear. By "our" hungry, I meant the poor and hungry of the USA.
    This feeding of Africa is PR for the Democratic Party and transparent politics.

    August 8, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |

    there is plenty of hungry and malnurished people in the city and usa everywhere...

    August 8, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. C. Ing Clearly

    Those Somalians who have hijacked ships and collected millions and millions of dollars from international companies are surely donating large sums of money, aren't they?

    August 8, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Phantom II

    I keep coming back to this topic because I cannot believe that Democrats are demonstrating our dedication TO HELPING AFRICA?
    This is insanity.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. brown

    Another trip for the Congressman and his family and friends. BTW ... you get stuck with the bill!

    August 8, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Big John Daddy

    I waste and throw out food every day. Hungry hungry hippos anyone????

    August 8, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Osama Bin Laden/Obama Biden Leader Of The Decepticons

    Muahahaha!.. Yes ignore your own camp and let's focus on saving the cradle of humanity.. Shouldn't they have had a head start on all of us since that's where humanity originated? Instead of showing a few dark skinned kids in order to tug on everyone's heart strings why don't we tell them all to move into a more fertile part of Africa and we can show them how industrial agriculture works.. This is less about Jill Biden caring and more about her trying to appear like she does care. Muahahaha.. Good girl Jill. I'm gonna stop by for a domer when Joe goes golfing.. ahahaha..

    August 8, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. literate

    Bravo Jill. Where there is help needed, GO and HELP.

    Instead of whining about helping our "own", why don't you all stop driving SUV's the size of rockets, throwing away left overs, and wasting your money on excess nonsense like ti-vo and glitter make-up. Just maybe the billions of pennies saved there could help with your "own".

    August 8, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. sbast18

    WHAT??? GET THE HECK OUT OF KENYA and get HOME you IDIOT! Try visiting downtown Boston, Chicago or some other AMERICAN city you JERK!

    August 8, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    Here's a thought: Why don't we encourage China to send money to Somalia instead of US borrowing money from China to send to them?

    August 8, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Well......

    There,s not enough room here to vent my sentimemts, but so far I'm in agreement with the postings here, even your,s Phantom II.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. Phantom II

    @ Well...:
    We disagreed on something–I don't remember what–but I doubt that we disagree on everything.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
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