We now know there are more than 11.5 million people -- primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and especially Somalia -- in need of emergency assistance.
Given the rapidly evolving humanitarian emergency in the region, I was encouraged to see so many countries convene so quickly in Rome for the ministerial-level meeting. There is no time to lose -- and meetings such as these must continue to bring the world's attention to the situation in the Horn.
Here at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, we have been working practically around the clock to support the broader U.S. and global response to the present crisis; but perhaps more importantly, we have also been working with our partners over the past months to prepare for a drought that we knew was coming. With U.S. Government support, food was pre-positioned in the area, saving over 4 million lives that otherwise would have been at risk.
At the emergency meeting at the FAO yesterday we all agreed that it is not enough to address the present crisis, as we have done in the past, but rather it is essential that we tackle the longer term needs (access to water, agricultural development) of these stricken areas at the same time as we respond to the emergency.
I left the conference convinced that there really is an emerging consensus around this sort of twin-track approach in the Horn -- that even as we respond to the emergency needs of the people on the ground, we will also address the broader developmental deficits that plague the region.
No country can solve this problem alone, of course. Along with other donors, we are working closely with UN Agencies like the FAO and WFP in Rome. But more will be required from our other partners around the globe. The only way to truly resolve this recurring humanitarian disaster is through more and deeper global coordination and commitment.
Yesterday's meeting, which followed a donor's conference in London and significant planning sessions in Washington D.C., and Nairobi, is an important start. But with more than 3,000 Somali refugees entering Kenya and Ethiopia each day, it is only that -- a start.
How can you help with the situation in the Horn of Africa? Start here.
Editor's Note: Ambassador Cousin will be traveling to Kenya in two weeks to review U.S.-supported relief operations along the border with Somalia.