This week, President Barack Obama announced that the United States will be sending additional relief funds for the Horn of Africa. Amid the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, more than 12.4 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. The White House Press Secretary announced, “Today, on behalf of the U.S. Government and the American people, the President has approved an additional $105 million for urgent humanitarian relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, including funds from his Emergency Relief and Migration Assistance Fund. This year alone, the U.S. has provided approximately $565 million in humanitarian assistance. U.S. assistance will continue funding the urgently needed food, health, shelter, water, and sanitation assistance to those who desperately need help.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks on the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She said, “...What is happening in the Horn of Africa is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in several decades. The United States and our partners in the region, including the World Food Program, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, NGOs, and donor governments, are racing to save as many lives as possible.”
Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden continued to give on-the-ground reports of the events in the Horn of Africa. Both visited Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya. Dr. Shah highlighted the importance of pursuing long-term solutions to this crisis. He said, “To address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we need to invest in agriculture, build strong markets and harness advances in science and technology.” Ambassador Ertharin Cousin also visited Dadaab, where she observed U.S. humanitarian assistance in action.
Secretary Clinton met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere at the Department of State. Secretary Clinton commended Norway's contributions to the Horn of Africa crisis and the country's efforts to promote sustainable development around the world. Secretary Clinton also addressed the recent tragic events in Norway. She said, “I want once again to offer our deepest sympathies on behalf of the American people to our friends in Norway, especially the families of those who lost loved ones.”
The Secretary and Foreign Minister then discussed recent events in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Summing up the meeting, Secretary Clinton added, “…So whether it's promoting sustainable development or standing up for universal rights in the face of political violence, the United States and Norway are working together on so many important issues.”
After a UN Security Council meeting last week, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations addressed the situation in Syria. She said, “We're going to continue and intensify our pressure both through our national actions and additional sanctions, as well as coordinated efforts with other partners here in New York and around the world."
On August 12, people around the world celebrated International Youth Day, which this year also marked the close of the United Nations' International Year of Youth. Ronan Farrow, the Secretary's Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, spotlighted the role young people have played in shaping the global landscape this year and underscored America's commitment to youth issues.
In Peru, U.S. Embassy Lima is reaching out to at-risk youth through art workshops, while the U.S. Mission in Brazil is promoting interfaith dialogue through efforts such as U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo's second annual Iftar dinner. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassies in Islamabad and New Delhi recently sent 10 students and two teachers to the Advanced Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center facilities in Huntsville, Alabama.
In related news, Secretary Clinton recently met with hip-hop musician will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. Musician will.i.am is supporting President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative, an effort to increase dramatically the number, and diversify the composition, of U.S. students studying in China. Last week, Secretary Clinton also joined baseball all-star Cal Ripken, Jr., to highlight sports exchanges for aspiring Japanese athletes.
International exchanges present unique educational and cultural opportunities for young people around the world. For U.S. students preparing to study abroad this fall, we recommend checking out a fantastic resource -- our award-winning Students Abroad website and enrolling in our online Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Meanwhile, American families interested in hosting a foreign exchange student can learn more here.
Finally, many here at the State Department paused last week to remember the victims of the Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. President Obama said, “Today, the remembrance of these tragic attacks spurs us to continue to work closely with our allies in East Africa and around the world to bring terrorists to justice and to redouble our efforts to prevent these attacks in the future.”
On behalf of everyone here at DipNote, I'd like to thank all of our readers for their feedback and comments from this last week, and we look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.
While I didn't get the opportunity to fly on an Open Skies mission, I still had an extremely beneficial and exciting 10 weeks interning for the State Department. I have discovered a new-found respect for what happens behind the scenes in our government, and I encourage anyone interested in truly making a difference to apply for a position at careers.state.gov.