Jill Biden Visits Somali Famine Refugees; Asking Americans to Reach Out and Help'
DADAAB, Kenya (AP) — A U.S. aid official warned Monday that hundreds of thousands of Somalis could die as famine spreads, amid a visit to Kenyan refugee camps by the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Jill Biden on Monday visited the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, where tens of thousands of Somali famine refugees have arrived in recent weeks.
Biden's trip is the highest-profile U.S. visit to drought-stricken East Africa since the numbers of refugees began dramatically increasing in June. Biden said the aim of her visit was to raise awareness and convince donors to give more.
"What I'm asking is for Americans to reach out and help because the situation is dire," said Biden, who met with two Somali mothers and their eight children during her visit to the camp. "There is hope if people start to pay attention to this."
More than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise in the coming weeks.
USAID administrator Raj Shah said models predict that hundreds of thousands of people could die from famine.
More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of immediate food aid, including nearly half the Somali population. The U.N. has declared five famine zones in Somalia, including the camps for displaced people in Mogadishu.