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Biden denounces Somali guerrillas over famine
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2011

US Vice President Joe Biden on Monday sharply criticized the Islamist Shebab rebels over Somalia's famine, saying that the group has hindered efforts to bring food to the hungry.

The United Nations estimates that 3.7 million Somalis -- around one-third of the population -- are on the brink of starvation and tens of thousands have already died in a country that has lacked a government for two decades.

"Al-Shebab terrorists did not create the food crisis but they have made it far worse. Drought conditions exist throughout East Africa but so far famine is concentrated only in the Al-Shebab-controlled areas," Biden told a forum on global hunger held at the State Department.

"The most cynical action of all, they endanger their own people by commandeering assistance sent by the rest of the world to the starving children and women of that country," he said.

Shebab, which takes inspiration from Al-Qaeda, has banned Western influence in its regions and has been accused of threatening and kidnapping aid workers, including two Spanish women snatched working with refugees in Kenya.

Kenya has launched an unprecedented week-old military push into Somalia against the Shebab, which threatened retaliation. One person was killed and 29 were wounded in two grenade attacks on Monday in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

In an apparent publicity push, Al-Qaeda recently held a ceremony where the militants were seen donating food, money and clothes.

"Make no mistake -- it's not that Al-Shebab cares that much about innocent people dying. Rather, they're concerned that these grim conditions threaten their grip on the region and undermine their propaganda purporting to defend the Somali people," Biden said.

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US pledges $100 million in East Africa hunger aid
Washington (AFP) Oct 24, 2011 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday pledged $100 million in additional funding to help provide food for some of the millions of people suffering severe hunger in East Africa.

Addressing a forum on food security, Clinton said that the funding was in addition to nearly $650 million already committed by the United States for the Horn of Africa crisis and would help cover operations into next year.

"I am pleased to announce that we are providing an additional $100 million, primarily in food assistance for drought-affected areas in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia," Clinton said.

"This new funding will help us reach more people and support our humanitarian commitment well into 2012," Clinton said.

Clinton did not go into detail about the funding. The previous $647 million was distributed to aid groups and agencies including the UN World Food Program.

The United Nations estimates that more than 13 million people are in need of food assistance in East Africa, which is suffering from its worst drought in years.

The worst-hit nation by far is Somalia, where tens of thousands of people are believed to have already died. The country has effectively lacked a central government for two decades, with the Islamist Shebab guerrillas controlling much of the country.


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Tuvalu grapples with drought
Funafuti, Tuvalu (UPI) Oct 18, 2011
The drought in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which declared a state of emergency this month because of a severe shortage of fresh water, is likely to last until January, the government says. Tuvalu normally receives 8-16 inches of rainfall each month but hasn't had significant rain in six months. UNICEF New Zealand and the government of New Zealand are sending a solar-powe ... read more

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