U.S. Official First to Visit Southern Somalia in Five Years Announces Food Aid to Somalia

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 22 Mar 2000
BAIDOA, Somalia -- Hugh Parmer, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Humanitarian Response, became the first senior U.S. official to visit southern Somalia in five years on Saturday. During his visit, he announced that USAID would provide 18,000 metric tons of food aid to Somalia this year.

The visit to Somalia is Parmer's third stop on a five-nation tour to assess drought conditions in the Horn of Africa. Ten years of civil war and natural disaster (floods and drought) have destroyed many of Somalia's material resources. Poor rainfall over the past three years has led to the current drought conditions. The southern regions of Bay, Bakool and Gedo are particularly at risk.

The one-day trip to Somalia took Parmer to Baidoa and Qansadhere, in the Bay region of southern Somalia. During his visit, he met with representatives of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), the regional administration of Somalia's Bay and Bakool regions.

"I believe that our commitment of 18,000 metric tons of food aid will go a long way toward preventing the drought conditions from turning into a famine-like situation," said Parmer. He also warned the RRA that continued U.S. government assistance to their territory would be dependent upon complete cooperation with the humanitarian community.

Parmer also toured USAID-funded health clinics run by the International Medical Corps and UNICEF, and visited primary schools and water systems.

Parmer is on a two-week trip to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea to assess the impact of the drought and evaluate the infrastructure for meeting the food needs of the region. He will then travel to Rome and Brussels to discuss the drought situation with officials of the UN's World Food Program and the European Union.

Hugh Parmer has been USAID's assistant administrator for the Bureau for Humanitarian Response since 1998. USAID is the United States government agency responsible for development and humanitarian assistance around the world.

U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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Contact: Kim Walz or Gabrielle Bushman