The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says that more than eleven-million people living in East Africa and the Horn of Africa are in need of assistance to prevent the possibility of famine. Drought, caused by a lack of rain, is affecting Burundi, northeastern Djibouti, southern Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, southern Somalia, and Tanzania.
Jean-Luc Martinage, a Red Cross spokesman in Geneva, Switzerland, says that along with a lack of water, some of the people in the affected areas also suffer from poverty, conflict, and inadequate health services:
"In Burundi, for instance, we have now about two-million people affected and the lack of rain is only one part of the problem. Burundi is also facing the consequences of a long-lasting civil war with a large number of refugees expected to return home from camps in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
Mr. Martinage says time is running out:
"We are trying to prevent this food insecurity situation, as we call it, that exists in regional pockets in East Africa to turn into a general famine situation. And, we will provide, of course, food distribution. But, also livestock protection because a lot of cattle are dying."
Since November 2005 the U.S. has provided more than one-hundred-fifty million dollars in emergency humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the region. This assistance includes food aid, emergency water and sanitation projects, health and nutrition support, and other assistance.
A written statement released by the State Department says that the United States "is preparing for a potential worsening of the crisis, as spring rains in the region are not expected to be sufficient to provide relief." The State Department says the U.S. "is calling upon other donor nations as well as the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia to increase their efforts."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.