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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Remarks on the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Read or watch the entire statement on the U.S. Department of State website

Thank you so much, Director General, for not only those remarks but for the work that is done every day here at this premier organization designed to come forward with sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. And I want to thank the International Food Policy Research Institute for hosting me today and for the leadership you show in a key area of global development – helping governmentsdesign and implement successful policies for reducing hunger and undernutrition.

This is an issue that is on your minds every day, but it is now on the minds of many people because of the crisis that is raging in the Horn of Africa. It is, first, a food crisis; a severe drought has put more than 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia in danger of starvation. It is also a refugee crisis, because at this point, hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes in search of food and safety. Some are walking more than 100 miles with their children in their arms to reach refugee camps, which are so overcrowded that thousands wait outside the fences, and more arrive every minute, many close to death.

What is happening in the Horn of Africa is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in several decades. The United States and our partners in the region, including the World Food Program, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, NGOs, and donor governments, are racing to save as many lives as possible.

Fortunately, we did, as the Director General just said, have a bit of a head start because of the Famine Early Warning System Network known as FEWSNet. The United States supports it along with others. It monitors drought and crop conditions and alerts governments and aid groups when crises are coming. This network, along with the analysis from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, enabled us to begin prepositioning food in key locations throughout the region starting last year. But a great deal more must be done, and it must be done fast. Famine conditions in Somalia are likely to get worse before they level off.

And while we hurry to deliver life-saving assistance, we must also maintain our focus on the future by continuing to invest in long-term food security in countries that are susceptible to drought and food shortages. It is this connection between food emergencies and food security that I would like to speak to today. Because our goal is not only to help the region come through this crisis, but working with organizations like IFPRI to do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Food security is the key.



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