Tue, 01/24/2012 - 12:22
Barack H. Obama
United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Refugees International Open Letter to President Obama in Advance of the 2012 State of the Union Address
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of Refugees International, I write to highlight the ongoing displacement crisis in the Horn of Africa and urge you, in your upcoming State of the Union Address, to showcase U.S. leadership on this issue and the need for sustained, high-level attention to the plight of those impacted by drought and famine.
As the largest bilateral donor of aid to the region, the U.S. provided over $650.5 million in humanitarian assistance in FY2011 and $220 million thus far in FY2012. This is a clear demonstration of America’s values and represents our commitment to assist and protect the world’s most vulnerable people.
The scale and severity of the crisis, however, requires persistent attention and high-level engagement. Over 13 million people are affected by the region’s worst drought in 60 years and the United Nations warns that 250,000 are currently at risk of starvation. Several hundred thousand Somalis have fled famine conditions to seek refuge in neighboring countries, primarily Kenya and Ethiopia, where aid organizations work to provide assistance in increasingly complex and challenging operating environments. Within Somalia, a country that has been wracked by conflict for over 20 years, about 1.5 million people are internally displaced.
Though the situation remains dire, there is minimal media coverage of the drought and famine, relative to the enormity of the impact; and donor fatigue could threaten the effectiveness of ongoing response efforts.
In your State of the Union Address on January 24th, we urge you to shine a light on the crisis in the Horn by acknowledging the generous commitments that the US has already made to the region and to call on Congress and the American people to remain dedicated and resolved to help those who are still suffering.
Thank you for your consideration.
President, Refugees International