Senator Durbin responds to our Famine petition

Big news. As you know, last week we delivered signatures from ONE’s “Fight the Famine, Feed the Future” petition to all Senate offices here in DC. Senator Durbin just responded, reaffirming his commitment to “work for adequate funding for humanitarian assistance programs as the Senate considers the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, and monitor the crisis in East Africa” (full statement below).

This is proof that our voices are being heard on Capitol Hill. One by one we’re letting our elected officials know that programs like “Feed the Future” really can break the cycle of famine for good and end extreme poverty in the developing world— all for less than 1% of the US budget. Check out Senator Durbin’s full statement below, and please leave him a message in the comments:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the drought that is affecting East Africa on behalf of my constituents from the State of Illinois. I appreciate hearing from you.

Since July 21, 2011, the United Nations has declared “famine level food insecurity” in a number of regions in Somalia. The area is expected to expand in the coming weeks and months as a result of a continuing lack of rain.

Nearly half of Somalia’s estimated 10 million people require humanitarian aid, and millions more across East Africa face famine and security issues.

This problem could become significantly worse if not addressed as soon as possible. Recent estimates have indicated that almost 30,000 children under the age of 5 have died as a result of the famine in Somalia. These are the innocent victims of drought, instability, and lawlessness.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor of emergency assistance to this growing crisis in East Africa. We have already responded with more than $431 million in food and non-food emergency assistance this year, and Secretary Clinton just announced an additional $28 million in aid for people in Somalia and for Somali refugees in Kenya.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also has been working on the ground in the region, coordinating with bilateral and multilateral organizations to aid in the relief efforts. President Obama’s Feed the Future program will be vitally important to break the cycle of hunger and food insecurity as well, addressing the root causes through innovative agricultural advances. This program is modeled on a bill I sponsored with my colleagues, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana and Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, called the Global Food Security Act.

The United States must continue to show moral leadership even in a time of stretched budgets. Emergency assistance programs cost us little but have a significant impact, potentially saving the lives of thousands of people in need around the world.

I will continue to work for adequate funding for humanitarian assistance programs as the Senate considers the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, and monitor the crisis in East Africa.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to stay in touch.

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator