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. Gothaze

    Wow I actully thought there would be just a little more compassion, from a country who has water devistation a drout of this porportion has on a people. magnitude and devistation of having a country the size of wes

    August 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I have compassion, but it's for the citizens in the U.S. that need help, NOT for a country half way around the world.

      August 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    How about bringing her bleeding heart self home and visiting the areas here in the U.S. We have areas here that need that $100 million. Let's take care of our own first. If Biden wants to do some good, bring our troops home.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      SAVE AMERICA ... IMPEACH OBAMA NOW !!!

      August 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phantom II

    Delusions of grandeur will not solve the USA's economic problems.
    We are not in a position to give away any money.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkZ

      Apparently we're in position to send a VP's wife on a junket to Africa. Another smart use of tax payer money.

      August 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stan

    Thanks Jill. Will you be eating their food or bringing your own for you plane load of people – and couldn't that amount of food fed these folks for a couple weeks?

    And our country, with no money – how is it this trip was paid for? Spend, spend, spend. Gotta love liberals.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gothaze

    There's rethugs in disguse here folks. No self respecting humanitarian would utter such cruelty to these unfortunate people. They been used and abuse by Religious thugs for centuries. If ever there was innocents lost, its will the plight of the Somolian as it were for Jews, Serbs, Irish, and Slaves......get a conscience.....A$%§&€?!

    August 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcas

      You are as delusional as the Bidens! I have no problem with you spending your money and going over there to help. But for these egomaniacs in DC to use our tax money without our permission to help those who will never stop reproducing and will never start to farm or relocate at a time when Americans are hurting too is inexcusable. The VP of the US needs to get his priorities straight and tell his wife if she wants to go to help, use her own money, book her own flight and spend Bidens money, not the money of American Taxpayers already broke and starving... GOT IT?!? GOOD!

      August 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phantom II

    Even if there were wars that needed to be fought, there is massive waste in the military budget.
    Doesn't anybody in the government realize that we're in a mess?
    Stop spending more than we have.
    Stop the top 2% tax cuts.
    Tax everybody.
    We could all work together on this, and, no, sorry–we can't feed every poor country in the world when we can't feed our own poor GOOD food.
    OUT OF AFRICA!

    August 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Preach it, brother!!

      August 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      You've got that right.

      August 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    This is ridiculous.
    Although I am sorry for the plight in Africa, Jill Biden's trip couldn't have come at a worse time.

    PS:

    Phantom II reminds me an awful lot of JIF.
    Anyone else think so?
    Or maybe I just miss JIF's posts.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy

    On second thought, not to much.
    Phantom II is, however, very eloquent.
    I appreciate that in a post!

    August 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    *not SO much*

    August 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TOLBERT

    Africa is a pemenantly wounded country and will continue to be.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gee

    @Tolbert: Africa is a continent. Somalia is a country.

    August 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. alohafromgloria

    Feed the HUNGRY in our OWN back yard!!

    August 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sonic10158

    I guess since Bush got to send aid to Africa during his terms, Joe Biden wants to too

    August 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    JIF reminds me of a few people . I like him best as JIF.

    August 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. raven

    JIF reminds me of a few people . I like him best as JIF. Even if he doesnt like me .

    August 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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