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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

CBC Africa Taskforce Co-Chairs Host Africa Forum on Famine

April 4, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  – Today, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, and Congressmember Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, hosted an Africa Policy Forum to discuss Somalia, South Sudan and Northeastern Nigeria, all of which are either experiencing or on the brink of famine. The purpose of the forum was to discuss pursuable solutions and to also raise awareness about this increasingly dangerous issue.

“We can’t just sit back and say that 20 million people are at risk of starvation and that our country will not play a role,” said Rep. Bass. “Last year, South Sudan was on the brink of famine. Now, as famine has been declared and over 40 percent of the country’s population faces severe, life-threatening hunger, our President is threatening to cut the foreign aid budget by nearly 30 percent. This added to the threat of famine in Somalia and Northeastern Nigeria creates the potential for the largest humanitarian crisis of the last century. Putting America first means addressing this today.”

“As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Africa Taskforce, I recognize the importance and timeliness of our Famine Forum this morning,” said Congressman Meeks.  “In light of the Trump administration’s proposed 30% cuts to foreign aid, now more than ever, we must stand firm to protect America’s diplomacy and assistance priorities across the globe.  One starving child is one too many, and our nation has both a moral responsibility and a security incentive to end the famine plaguing Somalia, South Sudan, and Northeastern Nigeria.”

“With nearly 20 million people in four nations at risk of starvation from famine, Congress has a moral duty to help save lives.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) stated. “The window for action on this crisis is rapidly closing – we cannot delay any longer in passing a humanitarian aid package to bring relief to suffering families. I am grateful to my colleagues, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Congresswoman Karen Bass, for hosting this critical forum today. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure we commit serious resources to addressing this historic crisis."

“Famine in Africa is an issue that affects us all,” Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) said. The plight of the millions who suffer challenges our common humanity.  We in the west have a responsibility to do more to address the crisis and create the conditions to help alleviate the on-going misery.”  

Over the past four years, the Africa Policy Forum has addressed a range of important Africa-specific issues regarding economic development and trade, peace and security, governance and issues pertaining to women and youth empowerment.  The focus of the forum remains the discussion of current developments on the continent and information relevant to the Diaspora at large. 

You can view pictures from the event here.

Watch the event here.