US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced on Tuesday a USD 533 million in humanitarian aid for drought and conflict-stricken countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.
The aid package, announced during Tillerson’s speech in Virginia ahead of a week-long visit to several African nations, offers emergency food and nutrition assistance to millions now facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or drought.
It includes tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid, safe drinking water and emergency health care and hygiene programs.
This assistance also includes life-saving medical supplies, improved sanitation, and emergency shelter, and prioritizes programs that protect vulnerable groups.
The Secretary of State said the US supported the creation of a development finance institution for Africa. He also contrasted the US efforts in the Africa, which he said promoted “sustainable growth,” with that of China, which recently pledged USD 124 billion for its Silk Road plan to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and other places.
Tillerson warned China’s investment in Africa “encouraged dependency”.
“When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability,” Tillerson added.
Of the newly announced funds, nearly USD 84 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than USD 110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than USD 110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than USD 128 million for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region, according to the State Department.
Tillerson’s weeklong trip will take him to Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad and Nigeria. Tillerson becomes the highest-ranking US official to visit the continent since President Donald Trump took office.