The Trump administration is sending $169 million from United States taxpayers to support the people of Ethiopia and Kenya, two countries that are now experiencing a severe and prolonged drought.
Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, said humanitarian assistance will be given to the Ethiopian government, which often faces international criticism and internal opposition to its authoritarian approach to development.
“With the new funding, we’re providing vital emergency food assistance, safe drinking water, and health services to millions of Ethiopians and Kenyans in the worst drought-affected areas,” said Nauert.
“The additional aid comes at a critical moment for Ethiopia and Kenya as the threat of hunger, malnutrition, and dehydration are reaching alarming levels right now,” said Nauert. “The drought is especially severe in Ethiopia, where an estimated 7.8 million people now require urgent humanitarian assistance.”
“We’re also closely monitoring food and security in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, where conflict – and in Somalia, drought – have created near-famine conditions that require large humanitarian responses,” said Nauert.
The Trump administration has provided nearly $2 billion in taxpayer money in response to these crises while barring refugees from entering the USA.
“The United States is the world’s largest humanitarian donor and we remain committed to saving lives and supporting the most vulnerable people,” said Nauert. “We also strongly encourage additional contributions from governments of Ethiopia and Kenya and other humanitarian donors to address the growing needs of people who are affected by that drought.”
More than 29,000 people were arrested during a state of emergency imposed in Ethiopia last October following months of protests provoked by a development scheme for the capital, Addis Ababa. Nearly 8,000 of them are still facing trial.
By contrast, Kenya is one of Africa’s most open societies, but since presidential and local elections are scheduled for next Tuesday, there are concerns.
Kenyans are anxious to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2007, when a disputed presidential election resulted in weeks of bloodletting. More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed, with hundreds of thousands uprooted from their homes, amid ethnic conflict.
The shocking murder of Chris Msando, the official in charge of an electronic system designed to curb election-day cheating, has exacerbated tensions.
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