Young probes causes, potential solutions to famine, conflict in African countries

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said on Wednesday that the international community must provide adequate resources and support as famine ravishes Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, and rally to end attacks on humanitarian personnel and facilities.

Young serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy. He delivered his remarks during a hearing that sought an update on famine and conflict in African countries, and explored possible solutions.

“Based on an understanding of the root causes, I’m most interested in identifying and catalysing additional specific actions that our government, other governments, NGOs and multilateral institutions can take,” Young said. “Actions they can take without delay to help prevent millions dying from starvation in these four countries.”

Young said posters of impoverished children that were on display at “The Four Famines” hearing were “deeply troubling.”

“But, I think it is important to have these posters here today because they remind us that we are talking about real people who need urgent help,” Young continued. “Can you imagine how you would feel if you were the mother, father, sister or brother of one of these children?”

Young said the international community must rally to combat attacks on humanitarian personnel and facilities, provide adequate resources and funding, and work to prevent food and medicine from being used as weapons of war.

“These four crises to varying degrees are man-made, they’re preventable,” Young said. “Exacerbated by armed conflict and deliberate restrictions on humanitarian access. Today in these countries we’re seeing attacks on humanitarian personnel and insufficient global responses to the funding needs of these crises. We’re also seeing far too many man-made impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme, testified that the ongoing crises threaten U.S. and global security.

“When mothers and fathers and families can’t feed their children, in these extremist areas, and they don’t have the access or opportunity to leave, then they have no choice but to turn to what’s available to them,” Beasley said. “So, when the US provides the leadership to make certain that these families — mothers and fathers — can feed their children, they do not turn to extremism. They do not turn and yield to terrorism. If we are not there, terrorism and extremism will proliferate and the problems that we are facing around the world will only be exacerbated and compounded and then, of course, we’re dealing with military and other operations that are very costly after the fact.”

Beasley also testified that a Saudi-led coalition was behind the bombings of cranes and a World Food Programme warehouse, and that the coalition had blocked the delivery of new cranes purchased by U.S. taxpayers at a cost of $3.9 million.

“The case can definitely be made that the Saudi’s are in fact violating customary, international, humanitarian law,” Young said.