Testimony by Eric Schwartz on the Four Famines

On July 18, 2017, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development and Multilateral Institutions, in a hearing titled, “The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan.”

The hearing was chaired by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and included testimony from: Matthew Nims, Acting Director, Office of Food for Peace, U.S. Agency for International Development; David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme; and David Forsyth, Deputy Executive Director of the United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  The witnesses focused their comments on the crises in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, examining the contributions of conflict, corruption, lack of governance, climate change, and other factors in creating famine conditions in these countries.

In his testimony, Schwartz emphasized his concern about historic global refugee crises and the vexing humanitarian challenges confronting the United States and the world today. In particular, Schwartz pointed to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen, with millions of Yemeni men, women, and children facing famine conditions made worse by large-scale outbreaks of cholera. Schwartz urged the United States to maintain its leadership role in responding to humanitarian crises like that in Yemen, saying, “U.S. involvement may not guarantee the success of a humanitarian response mission, but lack of U.S. leadership will guarantee its failure.” 

Schwartz concluded his testimony stating: “(W)e must be very aware that cuts in budgets for development, including for climate change adaptation, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and refugee assistance will only mean greater risks of food insecurity and famine, and greater needs for food aid.”