U.S. extends food, health aid to Ethiopia, Kenya amid crisis

U.S. extends food, health aid to Ethiopia, Kenya amid crisis

A farmer waits to receive emergency food aid in the village of Estayish in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, February 11, 2016. / Katy Migiro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration gave $169 million to feed people starving in Ethiopia and Kenya, USAID said on Thursday, adding to earlier assistance for those suffering from drought and conflict in four other nations.

USAID, the U.S. government’s humanitarian relief agency, said in a statement that it would provide $137 million in aid for Ethiopia and nearly $33 million for Kenya.

The latest wave of funding comes after Trump pledged $639 million last month in urgent food assistance for those in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Increased aid comes as numerous countries in the region face crisis-level food shortages due to armed conflict, drought and economic upheaval that have also resulted in a lack of medical care, sanitation, shelter and safety.

“With this new funding, the United States is scaling up emergency food assistance, while providing specialized nutrition supplies to treat malnourished children, and also furnishing safe drinking water and essential health services,” USAID’s statement said.

    The funds for Kenya would help support refugees fleeing neighboring conflicts as well as Kenyans suffering from drought, the agency said. Rising food prices have also been an ongoing concern.

The assistance for Ethiopia, which has also been struck by a severe drought, included enough food to feed 3 million people, USAID added.

Conflicts can also shift countries’ resources away from infrastructure and public health, causing food and water shortages, overcrowding and lack of sanitation. Such conditions can lead to diseases such as cholera, measles and malaria.

According to the United Nations, 795 million people worldwide are undernourished, mostly in developing countries. It has already warned of mass starvation in Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

Last month, The United Nations said that while many people in South Sudan are still going hungry, the worst of the famine had eased.

In Yemen, a two-year war has increased concerns about mass starvation and disease.