DADAAB, Kenya – Hundreds of thousands of Somali children could die in East Africa’s famine unless more help arrives, a top U.S. official warned Monday in the starkest death toll prediction yet. To highlight the crisis, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden visited a refugee camp filled with hungry Somalis.
Jill Biden said she wants to raise awareness and encourage donations.
A drought has turned into famine because little aid can reach militant-controlled south-central Somalia, forcing thousands of Somalis who have exhausted all the region’s food to walk to camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
President Barack Obama approved $105 million on Monday for humanitarian efforts in the Horn of Africa to combat drought and famine.
USAID administrator Raj Shah, who accompanied Biden, said hundreds of thousands of children could die from the famine. Shah said the world has a unique opportunity to save tens of thousands of children’s lives by expanding humanitarian activities inside Somalia, though he noted that it would be a challenge for aid providers to get into al-Shabab-controlled south-central Somalia.
More than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the past 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to estimates.