Even after Congress approved funding, we have a long way to go to fight famine

By Oxfam
Oxfam staff pour out the rations of cooking oil for families receiving food at a distribution in Panyijar County. Oxfam distributed beans, salt and oil for 47 households in a small community in Panyijar county as part of a targeted food distribution for 300 households of people who had recently arrived in Panyijar county from Mayendit seeking safety, food, clean water and other necessities. Photo: Lauren Hartnett / Oxfam

Last week, Congress approved new humanitarian funding in the Omnibus spending bill, in response to the famine already declared in South Sudan and looming in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

The bill, which averts a US government shutdown, provides $990 million in emergency funding to address this unprecedented crisis.

Currently, 30 million people are facing severe food insecurity in these areas, 10 million of whom are facing emergency and famine conditions—making this the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII. The UN has said it will take $4.4 billion in funding by July to avoid catastrophic hunger. Extreme hunger also looms in Ethiopia and Kenya and the UN has called for an additional $1.9 billion to respond there.

As Congress moves through its agenda and considers the next year’s budget, Oxfam has urged members to reject the draconian cuts to aid proposed by President Trump.

“The Omnibus bill is encouraging, and Congress must continue to uphold the best in American values and ideals by supporting life-saving foreign assistance in next year’s budget to address urgent needs and prevent crises in the future,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Global crises are not bound by our fiscal years, and the global humanitarian needs have never been greater. Investments in development assistance are investments in global stability, peace, and prosperity and to walk away from that in the way President Trump has proposed, would not only be  unwise, they would be immoral.”

Communities in all of these affected countries are doing all they can to support themselves and each other, but in many cases they are unable to produce and access food and other necessities, and now depend largely on aid. Oxfam and the aid community are working around the clock to keep the famine that has been declared in South Sudan from spreading.

We are encouraged by Congress’ recent budget that included $990 million for famine relief, and we will continue to work to ensure it is spent quickly and effectively to save lives.

With our partners, Oxfam is working to respond across this crisis in a few key ways: Providing clean water and sanitation to keep communities healthy, providing access to food by distributing cash for people to buy food in local markets, helping people produce their own food or distributing food directly, and protecting people as they are in these vulnerable situations. 

Help deliver life-saving assistance to families facing hunger, and prevent future famine.

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