U.S. officials are gearing up to announce a new $100 million funding effort to go towards Somalia as the nation continues to suffer from severe drought and famine.
According to the Associated Press, the news came on Aug. 8, just after Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Jill visited a refugee camp in Kenya, where thousands of Somalis have fled. Biden is raising awareness and attempting to persuade donors to give more.
“What I’m asking is for Americans to reach out and help because the situation is dire,” she told the AP. “There is hope if people start to pay attention to this.”
The U.S. estimates that currently, over 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone. The United Nations also says that 640,000 Somali children are malnourished, which could ultimately elevate the death rate.
Over 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of aid, including nearly half of Somalia’s population. U.N. officials say that aid is only reaching about 20 percent of the millions of Somalis who need it.
According to a White House release, this year alone, the U.S. has provided approximately $565 million in humanitarian assistance. Officials said in a statement that the U.S. will continue funding the urgently needed food, health, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to those who desperately need help.