April 05, 2017

Young, Cardin Introduce Resolution Calling For Urgent Diplomatic Campaign To Prevent Millions From Starving To Death

20 million people at risk of starvation in next 6 months if immediate action isn’t taken

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a resolution calling for an urgent and comprehensive diplomatic effort to address political obstacles in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen that are preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to people who desperately need it.

The resolution outlined the dire conditions in each of these four regions and urged the administration to take specific steps to address these crises.  On March 23, Senators Young and Cardin delivered a letter to Secretary Tillerson regarding the humanitarian crises in these regions.  To read the full text of their letter to the Secretary, click here.  

On March 22, Mr. Yves Daccord, the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, testified that the crisis represents “one of the most critical humanitarian issues to face mankind since the end of the Second World War” and warned that “we are at the brink of a humanitarian mega-crisis unprecedented in recent history.” Video of his testimony may be viewed here.

The text of today’s resolution is below: 

Title: Expressing the sense of the Senate on humanitarian crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

Whereas Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are all in famine, pre-famine, or “at risk of famine” stages in 2017;

Whereas, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 20,000,000 people are at risk of starvation within the next six months in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen;

Whereas, on March 22, 2017, Mr. Yves Daccord, the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, testified that the crisis represents “one of the most critical humanitarian issues to face mankind since the end of the Second World War” and warned that “we are at the brink of a humanitarian mega-crisis unprecedented in recent history”;

Whereas, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), “More than 5.1 million people face severe food insecurity in northeastern Nigeria”;

Whereas, according to USAID, “An estimated 6.2 million people—more than half of Somalia’s total population—currently require urgent humanitarian assistance.”;

Whereas, according to USAID, “An estimated 5.5 million people—nearly half of South Sudan’s population—will face life threatening hunger by July.”;

Whereas, according to USAID, in Yemen, “More than seventeen million people—an astounding 60% of the country’s population—are food insecure, including seven million people who are unable to survive without food assistance.”;

Whereas, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Some 22 million children have been left hungry, sick, displaced and out of school in the four countries. Nearly 1.4 million are at imminent risk of death this year from severe malnutrition.”;

Whereas the humanitarian crises in each of these regions are, to varying degrees, man-made and preventable—exacerbated by armed conflict, disregard for international humanitarian law, and deliberate restrictions on humanitarian access;

Whereas parties to the conflicts have harassed, attacked, and killed humanitarian workers, blocking and hindering humanitarian access and depriving the world’s most hungry people of the food they need;

Whereas humanitarian actors, coordinated by UNOCHA, are appealing for $5,600,000,000 in 2017 to address famines in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia, $4,400,000,000 of which is required urgently; and

Whereas Mr. Daccord testified on March 22, 2017, “Our message is clear: immediate, decisive action is needed to prevent vast numbers of people starving to death.”: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That—

(1)   It is the sense of the Senate that—

(A)   United States national security interests and the values of the American people demand that the United States lead an urgent and comprehensive international diplomatic effort to address obstacles in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen that are preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to millions of people who desperately need it;

(B)   the President should encourage other governments to join the United States in providing the resources necessary to meet the $5,600,000,000 UNOCHA appeal to address the humanitarian crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen;

(C)   parties to the conflicts in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen must respect fully international humanitarian law by allowing and facilitating rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need and respecting and protecting humanitarian and medical relief personnel and objects; and

(D)  the President, working with international partners, should work to identify and document violations of international humanitarian law in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen seeking to bring perpetrators to justice where possible; and

(2)   the Senate—

(A)   urges the President, in close coordination with international partners, to employ every appropriate strategy to persuade the Government of South Sudan to stop blocking aid for people who desperately need it;

(B)   calls on the President to notify Congress without delay if the Government of South Sudan does not immediately and fully respect international humanitarian law so that Congress can work with President to impose additional costs on the government and leaders of South Sudan for their deplorable actions;

(C)   urges the President to press the Government of Nigeria to take tangible and immediate steps to ensure accountability for security forces that violate human rights and fail to cooperate fully with international aid efforts;

(D)  calls on the President to send the Secretary of State or other high level representative to attend the upcoming United Kingdom’s Ministerial Conference on Somalia and publicly announce a contribution to the humanitarian assistance efforts which will help leverage other international donors; and

 (E)   urges the President to work urgently with stakeholders to persuade parties to conflict in Yemen to permit humanitarian groups increased access to Red Sea ports like Hodeida to deliver much-needed assistance to vulnerable communities.