Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Congressional Black Caucus Africa Taskforce Hosts Africa Policy Forum on Famine

(L-R) Jon C. Brause, Dr. Monde Muyangwa, General William “Kip” Ward, John Presdergast, Rep. Karen Bass

Washington, D.C.
April 4, 2017

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

The co-chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus Africa Taskforce, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, and Congress member Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, today hosted an Africa Policy Forum on Famine focusing on the challenges facing Somalia, South Sudan and Northeastern Nigeria. All three countries are either experiencing, or are on the brink of famine, while addressing terrorism or internal conflict.

The forum sought to highlight the commonalities and differences between the situations in the three countries, and propose ways through which governments and regional organizations can work to effectively address the issues.

Jon C. Brause, Director, World Food program, Washington, DC; John Prendergast, Founding Director, The Enough Project / Co-Founder, The Sentry; and former AFRICOM Commander and current President, SENTEL Corporation, General William E. “Kip” Ward (Retired) constituted the panel of experts that led the discussion. Dr. Monde Muyangwa, Director, Africa Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars moderated the event held at the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium.

General Ward briefed the attendees on the current situation in Northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram continues to plague residents, and said there is a direct link between famine and security. He emphasized the need for countries affected, and the international community to arrest the drivers of famine with meaningful economic activity. He added that resources beyond just food, drinking water, medication, are critical to famine and conflict stricken areas, and called on donor countries and organizations to look at more holistic approaches to providing resources in such situations.

John Prendergast stressed the need to end the financial flow of rebel forces that attack the livelihoods of innocent, hard working nationals, through targeted sanctions, and the freezing of personal assets. He also reiterated the need for credible peace keeping processes that effectively and permanently resolve existing conflicts.

Jon C. Brause in his remarks said that the same reasons for which President’s Kennedy and Eisenhower championed the fight against global hunger in the 1960’s are still relevant today, and added that the United States has the capability to lead the charge against fighting famine in Africa and on other parts of the world.

“We must never forget that there are hundreds of millions of people, particularly in the less developed parts of the world, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, even though a number of countries, my own included, are producing food in surplus. This paradox should not be allowed to continue.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower – September 22, 1960 – UN General Assembly

All the panelists agreed that supporting famine stricken areas in Africa and other parts of the world does indeed stabilize the US economy and security. Congress member Karen Bass in her closing remarks thanked the panelists and moderator and invited them to continue offering support to the US Congress in its efforts to address global famine and conflict.

For more information about the Africa Policy Forum click here

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