Jill Biden Tours Horn of Africa Famine Refugees

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By Ivana Kvesic, Christian Post Reporter
August 9, 2011|8:01 am

Jill Biden, the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has arrived in Kenya Monday for a special tour.

Biden's trip to the Horn of Africa has been organized to help raise awareness of the East Africa famine and to encourage donors to give aid to drought stricken populations. Biden has also undertaken the visit to the region to express U.S. commitment to containing the devastating and debilitating famine.

A statement from Washington has commented, "Dr. Biden's trip will underscore the United States' commitment to working with the governments and people of the region, and the international community to assist the people of the Horn of Africa during this urgent time of need, and to invest in long-term solutions for hunger and food insecurity in the region."

The trip comes as East Africa is facing its worst drought in 60 years and as the famine and refugee crisis in the region is worsening. Biden, who has a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Delaware, will be accompanied by a delegation of individuals that include Raj Shah of USAID, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwarts, and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith.

On the first day of her trip, Biden made a point to visit the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab.

Somali refugees are arriving in hordes to the camp and the Somali population in the camp has risen to more than 400,000 people since famine was declared in the country.

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Some estimates argue that up to 1,300 Somali's are fleeing their country a day and the increasing emphasis on the experiences of refugees in the crisis has enabled nontraditional concerns of refugees to be highlighted, such as the rape and harassment of Somali women and girls during their journey from Somalia to refugee camps.

Biden said of the trip, "What I'm asking is for Americans to reach out and help because the situation is dire."

The crisis in East Africa has been on a continuous decline and the U.S. has estimated that over 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the 90 days since the devastating famine has consumed Somalia.

The U.N. has labeled the famine in Somalia the "worst humanitarian disaster in the world."

 

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