Us says Eritrea is hiding food crisis
By Tigrai Online
July 21 2011
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you. Good afternoon. We in the United States Government have been responding to the evolving humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa for some time, and my colleagues and I will provide you with additional details on this situation.
However, I wanted to underline the importance that we attach to providing an appropriate and timely response in full partnership with the international community. Severe drought, poor infrastructure and insecurity have had a debilitating impact on the welfare of millions of people in this region, especially in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. This crisis has resulted in severe malnutrition, acute hunger, and rising levels of starvation. It has generated extraordinary refugee flows across thousands of miles in East Africa.
The current crisis in the Horn has long-term and short-term implications. It threatens the lives of those at risk, especially young children and women. And it also endangers the hard-won development gains and the future prospects of millions of people throughout East Africa and the Horn. Today, over 11 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, an estimated 3.6 million people have been affected. This includes refugees, rural pastoralists, and urban poor who are unable to buy adequate food because of escalating prices.
In Ethiopia, at least 4.5 million people are in need of assistance. Almost 3 million people need assistance in Somalia. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees already in Kenya and in Ethiopia, new arrivals are coming in at staggering daily rates. Many of these most recent refugees are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition, and there may be many more in need of assistance in Eritrea, where a repressive regime fails to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. The free flow of information is what allows people to make early choices that can help avert catastrophe. We urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the UN agencies and other international organizations to address the issue of hunger and food shortage in that country.
An especially complex and difficult component of the Horn of Africa’s humanitarian crisis is the high number of Somali refugees flowing into both Ethiopia and Kenya. This is a result of three overlapping and intersecting problems. The first is the extreme climate-induced drought that has prevailed intensely for the past two years and cyclically for more than 50 years. The second is the absence of a functioning central government in Somalia for over two decades. And the third is the presence of the anti-Western terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in south central Somalia. Al-Shabaab’s activities have clearly made the current situation much worse. In January 2010, Al-Shabaab prohibited international humanitarian workers and organizations from operating in their areas of control. And its continued refusal to grant humanitarian access has prevented the international community from responding to and mitigating some of the cumulative and most disastrous consequences of the drought in south central Somalia.
Source: U.S. Department of State