February 1, 2023

Hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa discussed in Washington as 23,300 metric tons of Ukrainian grain arrive amid severe drought and instability

USAID Administrator Samantha Power speaks at an event in honor of the anniversaries of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship, and Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship Program on August 17, 2022 at the Department of State in Washington, DC. [State Department Photo by Freddie Everett
USAID Administrator Samantha Power speaks at an event in honor of the anniversaries of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship, and Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship Program on August 17, 2022 at the Department of State in Washington, DC. [State Department Photo by Freddie Everett

At least 23,300 metric tons of Ukrainian grain have arrived in Africa to be distributed in Ethiopia and Somalia, two countries facing acute food insecurity after four years of drought exacerbated by almost two years of insecurity in the Horn of Africa.

“The United States is grateful for the important role Djibouti has played facilitating the flow of humanitarian goods to the region,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday.

Blinken added, “As part of a more than $68 million recent contribution by the United States to the World Food Program (WFP), this grain is among the first shipments of Ukrainian agricultural products exported from the Black Sea to reach some of the world’s most food insecure countries since the beginning of Russia’s unjustified, full-scale attack on Ukraine on February 24. The United States is the largest contributor to the WFP, having provided $5.7 billion to the organization since October 2021. Since February, the United States has provided over $5.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to scale up emergency food security operations in food insecure countries globally.

“Ukrainian agricultural products are critical to global food security. The United States supports the Turkey and UN-brokered deal between Ukraine and Russia to resume Ukrainian agricultural exports via the Black Sea, and we are closely monitoring Russia’s adherence to the deal’s terms. We call on Russia to immediately cease its war on Ukraine, which would do much to address the recent spike in global food insecurity.”

In Washington, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power and Top Chef judge and food activist Tom Colicchio will on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, host a Twitter Spaces discussion with USAID partners to examine the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa and the response to the ongoing historic drought.

The discussion will feature experts meeting urgent needs on the ground in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia: Rania Dagash, UNICEF’s Deputy and Regional Director of Eastern and Southern Africa; Lauren Landis, World Food Programme Kenya Country Director; and Frantz Celestin, Chief of Mission at Somalia’s International Organization for Migration.

Meanwhile, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced on Monday that it is providing $100,000 in immediate assistance to support the people affected by heavy rains and severe flooding in Sudan, which have resulted in at least 89 deaths, affected more than 226,000 people, and destroyed or damaged more than 47,000 houses. 

As the largest donor to the Sudanese people, USAID has provided more than $457 million in humanitarian aid since October 2021. “With these additional funds, USAID is supporting the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide urgently needed health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, as well as support to help IFRC continue assessments and humanitarian coordination efforts. U.S. officials in Sudan and Washington, D.C., are closely monitoring the impact of the flooding in coordination with humanitarian partners on the ground. The United States stands with the Sudanese people as they continue to face these severe floods and as they begin to recover,” USAID said in a statement.

Internationally, Blinken also condemned enforce disappearances in a statement on Tuesday to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, saying that the United States stands united with all those affected by the crime of enforced disappearance. 

“This practice is an egregious violation of human rights prohibited under international law, yet continues to be used to silence dissent and attack civil society,” he said.

Blinken added, “Every year, ordinary people fall victim to enforced disappearance and vanish without a trace after being arrested, detained, or abducted by government officials or those acting with their tacit assent.  Those responsible often refuse to acknowledge the occurrence of disappearances or may even excuse them as part of counter-terrorism activities.  Authoritarian regimes and their proxies try to instill fear and maintain control by disappearing human rights advocates, political activists, environmental defenders, journalists, and other vulnerable groups such as children and persons with disabilities.

“The United States renews its commitment to addressing enforced disappearance and calls on governments around the world to put an end to this practice, hold those responsible to account, reveal the whereabouts or fate of loved ones who have been disappeared, and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons.”

In her own statement, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations also commented on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, saying that the United States stands with the victims.

She said, “This International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the United States stands with victims of enforced disappearances, as well as their families and friends – each living daily with the anguish that comes with the question of uncertainty of what has become of their loved ones.

“Authoritarian regimes and their proxies globally continue to instill fear and maintain control by disappearing civil society leaders, human rights defenders, and others because of who they are, what they believe, or how they express themselves. Transnational repression – efforts by authoritarian regimes and their supporters to disappear activists, dissidents, and journalists in third countries – also continues.

“This year particularly, in light of the much-anticipated UN human rights report on Xinjiang, I am thinking of the numerous Uyghurs who were wrongfully detained and disappeared by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The United States insists that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet fulfill her duty and release this OHCHR report, as it was originally drafted. We also call on the PRC to uphold its commitments to the UN Charter and bring relief to the loved ones of the tens of thousands of Uyghurs reportedly disappeared by providing information on their whereabouts.

“The United States stands firmly every day in support of human rights and against these disappearances, and we offer our support to victims’ family, friends, and community members left in the dark. We call on all governments and international organizations around the world to credibly and transparently investigate all accounts of enforced disappearances and hold perpetrators to account.”

Meanwhile, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power spoke on Tuesday with Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, about increasing support for accelerating action on wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition in children, including the use of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF).

“Administrator Power acknowledged the Foundation’s generosity toward addressing acute malnutrition, and Co-Chair Gates’ personal leadership in announcing increased investments to advance nutrition solutions in the build-up to the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit. They discussed the urgent need to scale up access to life-saving treatment services amid the alarming increase in acute malnutrition in children globally, in both humanitarian and development contexts, as well as the concurrent increase in costs of RUTF,” USAID acting spokesperson Shejal Pulivarti said in a statement.

Pulivarti added that Administrator Power noted Co-Chair Gates’ support for the establishment of the RUTF Match Fund at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which matches national governments’ contributions to domestic financing for wasting treatment with funds from external donors.

“Noting USAID’s recent unprecedented $200 million investment in severe wasting treatment in response to the global food and nutrition crisis, in addition to the Agency’s existing annual support for severe wasting treatment, Administrator Power expressed appreciation to Co-Chair Gates for the Foundation’s potential increased support and encouraged an ambitious target over the next three years. Administrator Power and Melinda Gates also discussed The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the urgent need to address the global fertilizer crisis and the impact the ongoing global food crisis is having on women and girls,” added the statement.

Internationally, the United States also announced on Tuesday that it will participate in the Third United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS 2022) in New York from August 30 to September 1. The head of the U.S. delegation will be James A. Walsh, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

“UNCOPS 2022 will bring together ministers, chiefs of police, and senior representatives of regional and professional policing organizations to United Nations Headquarters to discuss how the UN and Member States can work together to enhance global security, address cross-border threats, and strengthen the performance of police who serve in UN peace operations. This event will also feature the UN Policewoman of the Year Award,” the U.S. government said,

It added, “The United States is a strong supporter of UN policing; through the State Department’s International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support Program and the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) partnership with Italy’s Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU), the United States is a leading provider of capacity-building and training for countries that provide police to UN peace operations.”

Meanwhile, the Department of State on Tuesday announced the release of the 2021 Digest of United States Practice in International Law, covering developments during calendar year 2021. Edited by the Office of the Legal Adviser, the Digest provides the public with a record of the views and practice of the U.S. Government in public and private international law.

The Digest traces its history back to an 1877 treatise by John Cadwalader, which was followed by multi-volume encyclopedias covering selected areas of international law. The Digest later came to be known to many as “Whiteman’s” after Marjorie Whiteman, the editor from 1963-1971.  Beginning in 1973, the Office of the Legal Adviser published the Digest on an annual basis, changing its focus to developments current to the year. Although publication was temporarily suspended after 1988, the Office of the Legal Adviser resumed publication in 2000 and has since produced volumes covering 1989 through 2020.

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