USA: Congressman, Senator Concerned About Somalia Aid Cuts

FILE - Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is interviewed in St. Paul, Minn.

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WASHINGTON / MINNEAPOLIS — Two members of Congress are expressing concern over President Donald Trump’s plan to slash foreign aid as parts of Somalia and nearby countries move closer to famine.

Speaking in Minneapolis at a forum on the drought situation in the Horn of Africa, U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) said the administration’s proposed 31-percent cut in foreign aid would hurt both humanitarian relief efforts and programs to curb terrorism.

“Terrorist groups like al-Shabab have demonstrated a history of capitalizing on this type of crisis and and we can’t allow it being that case today,” he said.

FILE – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said the U.S. needs to help drought and famine victims in their own country, before they are forced to flee.

“We have so many people here from Somalia that have relatives and friends, and when you don’t help people in their own country it kind ends up on your shores anyway,” she said. “We need to help people help themselves to get through touchy times and make sure their economy is strong.”

Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Dualle Beileh told VOA the drought situation in the country is getting worse.

“The drought is very serious and much more serious than the one we had in 2011. It’s a grave and it’s a serious one,” said Beileh.

In this photo taken Wednesday, March 8, 2017, men dig with shovels and women take away the earth, to build a dam so that if rains do come the water can be stored, near Bandar Beyla, in Somalia’s semiautonomous northeastern state of Puntland. Somalia has declared the drought a national disaster, part of what the United Nations calls the largest humanitarian crisis since the world body was founded in 1945, and with animals being central to many the drought threatens their main sources of nutrition and survival. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The 2011 drought killed an estimated 260,000 people.

The minister said the international community is responding to the call to help drought-affected populations avert famine.

“I pray to God that famine does not come,” he said. “It’s a sad story. I think the assistance that we are getting from around the world is such that famine can be avoided.”
– Abdulaziz Osman I Abdi H. Mahamud I VOA