Mark Engman is with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Public Policy & Advocacy team.
In a disaster as severe for children as the one in the Horn of Africa, we need all hands on deck to help provide the resources needed to save lives – and that includes governments as well as individuals.
Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), a long-time UNICEF champion, is trying to get his Congressional colleagues to take notice. He introduced House Resolution 361 (click here for a PDF), calling on the United States to continue its support to the people of the Horn of Africa during this time of drought and famine. His resolution cites UNICEF estimates of more than half a million severely malnourished children at risk. Rep. Payne noted, “While the United States has answered the immediate calls for aid, we must ensure we continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, and sustainable agricultural assistance that will prevent this type of tragedy in the future.”
|Peter, a nurse, measures a child’s upper arm during a UNICEF-assisted nutrition screening in Longelop Village, Kenya. The measurement, using a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) armband, is taken to assess a child’s nutrition status.|
Rep. Payne is certainly no stranger to the difficulties and dangers in the Horn of Africa, having visited the region several times during his career. On his last visit to Somalia in 2009, Somali rebels fired mortars at the airport, just as his plane was leaving for Kenya!
Reflecting the compassion and generosity of Americans, the United States Government has been a major donor of emergency assistance to the region, including funding for UNICEF’s response. Unfortunately, as the combination of continued drought, rising food prices, and ongoing conflict pushes the region toward a humanitarian catastrophe, our government will need to join its citizens in stepping up to do more to prevent millions of deaths.
At the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, we commend the Congressman’s expression of concern for the impact on children of this growing crisis, and his call to action for the U.S. Government to respond.