WASHINGTON — The United States said Thursday it would provide around $50 million in additional funding to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa as concerns persist despite the official end of famine in Somalia.
The State Department said it would give nearly $50 million for refugees and communities hit by drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, in addition to some $1 billion in US assistance over the crisis provided since early last year.
"Our sustained commitment has demonstrated the best of America, helping to undermine the extremist narrative of terrorist groups like al-Shebab in Somalia," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
Aid groups say that tens of thousands of people died of hunger since mid-2011 in a severe drought in the Horn of Africa, mostly in lawless Somalia where the Shebab rebels have at times barred or targeted Western aid.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization had appealed for $50 million last month, saying that an estimated 8.1 million people still needed assistance in the Horn of Africa even though the famine was declared over on February 3.
Aid groups have also sounded alarm over a separate hunger crisis in the west of Africa where the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger has been hit hard by drought, high food prices and conflict.
The United States last week announced another $120 million for the Sahel, despite a recent cutoff in aid to Mali due to a coup.
Despite a tightening aid budget, President Barack Obama's administration has put a top priority on fighting hunger around the world through its "Feed the Future" program aimed at addressing the root causes of the scourge.
The United States has been promoting livestock vaccinations and economic alternatives for rural people in an effort to develop long-term solutions to hunger in the Horn of Africa.
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