The U.S. aid chief is urging nations to do more to avert a food crisis in East Africa and singled out China for not doing enough. Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, and that nations must increase their efforts to avert a famine there. In remarks Monday at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, Power said that China "in particular stands out for its absence" in humanitarian efforts in East Africa. She said if China exported more food and fertilizer to the global market or to the World Food Program, it would "significantly relieve pressure on food and fertilizer prices and powerfully demonstrate the country's desire to be a global leader and a friend to the world's least developed economies."
China did not immediately respond to Power's comments. Power also criticized nations that have refused to condemn Russia's war in Ukraine and the effects it is having on the global food market.
"Countries that have sat out this war must not sit out this global food crisis," she said. Power praised Indonesia for lifting restrictions on palm oil, saying such actions should be followed by other nations.
"We encourage other nations to make similar moves, especially since several of the countries instituting such bans have been unwilling to criticize the Russian government's belligerence," she said. Global food prices have risen sharply as a result of the war in Ukraine, which has traditionally been a leading global exporter of wheat. Power said that at least 1,103 children recently died from hunger in the Horn of Africa and that 7 million other children in the region are severely malnourished.
"Now we need others to do more, before a famine strikes, before millions more children find themselves on the knife's edge," she said. The aid chief, who will visit the Horn of Africa this weekend, announced $1.18 billion in U.S. aid to the region, including sorghum — a local grain — as well as supplements for malnourished children and veterinary help for dying livestock.