Aug 1

Past Event

Famine in Somalia: An Expected Turn for the Worse

Event Materials



  • Somali Children Extremely Vulnerable

    Mark Bartolini, U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance: Starvation related diseases are the leading cause of death during a famine and it’s the very young children who are extremely vulnerable and most likely to succumb to these ailments.

  • Somalia's Refugees could Overwhelm Kenya

    Vincent Cochetel, UN Commission on Refugees: There are concerns that the tide of Somalia refugees seeking asylum and security in Kenya will overwhelm and destabilize that country.

  • Chilling Scene in Somalia

    Allan Jury, World Food Program: The situation in Somalia is truly chilling.

  • Unprecedented Drought and Famine

    Reuben Brigety, U.S. State Department: The drought and famine in Somalia are unprecedented. It is imperative that we find ways to bring relief to the refugees fleeing the country and to those people who remain there as well.

  • Somalia Needs a Long-Term Plan

    Semhar Araia, Oxfam International: Somalia needs help from the international community to devise a long-term plan for strengthening the economy, building new infrastructure and shoring up institutions.


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A severe drought in the Horn of Africa has added considerable pressure to an already deteriorating situation in Somalia. The United Nations recently declared that large areas of Somalia are in the grip of a major famine. Approximately 3.7 million people—nearly half the population—now face a significant humanitarian crisis. Beyond the current crisis, however, most of the issues the country faces are not new. The conditions in Somalia are an example of the deadly effects of severe and prolonged drought, ballooning food and water prices, poor governance and ongoing conflict. These critical factors make the development of an appropriate and effective international response challenging.

On August 1, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion on the humanitarian and political implications of the famine in Somalia and possible responses to the crisis. Panelists, including Allan Jury from the World Food Program, Reuben Brigety from the U.S. Department of State, Semhar Araia from Oxfam International, Mark Bartolini from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Vincent Cochetel from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), addressed a number of critical topics, including logistical challenges in delivering food to areas controlled by insurgents, the impact of the famine throughout the region, and measures that can be taken to avoid similar crises in the future.

Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda

  • Introduction and Moderator

  • Panelists

    • Semhar Araia

      Horn of Africa Regional Policy Advisor

      Oxfam International

    • Mark Bartolini


      Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance

    • Vincent Cochetel

      Representative to the United States and the Caribbean

      Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

    • Allan Jury

      Director, U.S. Relations Office

      World Food Program

    • Reuben Brigety

      Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

      U.S. Department of State


August 1, 2011

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105