Ambassador Tony Hall Confronts Congress About Cutting Aid to Somalia
1 year ago
Loop 21 interviews Alliance to End Hunger executive director about Somalia's crisis.
Somalia is facing its worst famine in over 60 years, displacing hundreds of thousands of its residents, who also are fleeing violence and terrorism from the motley gangs and tribes wreaking havoc throughout the battered country. Meanwhile, the United States, which was once a major supplier of food and humanitarian aid to Somalia, is now considering significantly cutting their emergency food aid budget, which would cripple an already hobbled nation.
Ambassador Tony Hall, the executive director for the Alliance to End Hunger, a D.C.-based non-profit that organizes around food insecurity issues domestically and internationally, has been pushing Congress to invest more goodwill and resources abroad, especially in Somalia. Loop 21 spoke with Hall, who’s also a former congressman representing Ohio and ambassador to the United Nation’s World Food Program, to gauge the current situation and see what the U.S. can do to help fix it.
Loop 21: Congress is considering cutting emergency international food aid by 75% in fiscal year 2012. Is that due to a lack of perspective on Congress' part? Or is the U.S. in a dire enough economic situation that these cuts are warranted?
Tony Hall: Yes, the U.S. is serious about cutting [the budget] but many [legislators] haven't seen these poverty programs and how they save lives. [These programs] help the U.S. by helping to build the image and the amount of goodwill. Aid packages have the U.S. insignia on them. Refugees know who is helping them. Also, it makes economic sense because in the long run we're building trading partners. Lastly, it's in our best security interests, because people who are hungry and poor and living in turmoil are more susceptible to the violence and anger that militant groups like Al Shabaab perpetuate.