- (Reuters/Feisal Omar)
President Barack Obama announced this week a new aid package worth $113 million for the famine and drought ravaged horn of Africa.
The funding announcement comes as a “FWD” campaign by the USAid organization is making its rounds on the internet, with videos in which television stars and athletes ask viewers to forward the humanitarian message using social media to as many people as possible.
The target of these initiatives is a growing humanitarian crisis in Africa’s horn – Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Thousands of communities don’t have access to food, water, shelter and other basic necessities, which has lead to starvation and disease.
“As we enter the season of giving and renewal, more than 13.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance amid the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years,” Obama told reporters on Thursday.
“The heartbreaking accounts of lives lost and of those struggling to survive remind us of our common humanity and the need to reach out to people in need,” Obama said.
According to USAID, the U.S. government has already provided $830 million of aid to the region of over 13 million people.
“Right now, the famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. “As lives and livelihoods are threatened, USAID and its partners are working to increase awareness of the crisis and urge people to act and support relief efforts.”
Some of those partners include N.F.L. stars like Ray Lewis, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald and more. Television host and author Anthony Bourdain also participated in the “FWD” project, where the celebrities issue appeals to viewers and recite facts about the region’s struggles.
Fitzgerald spoke about the importance of using his platform as a professional athlete to help out those in need.
“Given the magnitude of the number of people impacted by the crisis in the Horn of Africa, it was a privilege to be called upon, along with other players in the NFL, to increase awareness about this tragedy,” said Larry Fitzgerald.
The ad campaign will run through the end of the year.