July 19, 2017

Expert Witnesses Make Stunning Proclamations in Young Hearing on “Four Famines”

Washington DC – Senator Todd Young (R-IN) chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing to examine the “Four Famines” and outline next steps to alleviate suffering in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.  Leaders, officials, and experts from the World Food Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, and Refugees International testified.   

In his opening statement, Sen. Young pointed to several disturbing pictures of famished children that were on display around the room saying: “I realize these pictures may be disturbing to some.  They are deeply troubling to me.  But, I think it is important to have these posters here today because they remind us that we are talking about real people who need urgent help.  Can you imagine how you would feel if you were the mother, father, sister, or brother of one of these children?”

The Acting Director of the USAID Food for Peace Program said the world confronted the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. 

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley pointed out that the humanitarian crisis threatened U.S. and global security: 

“When mothers and fathers and families can’t feed their children, in these extremist areas, and they don’t have the access or opportunity to leave, then they have no choice but to turn to what’s available to them. So, when the US provides the leadership to make certain that these families – mothers and fathers – can feed their children, they do not turn to extremism. They do not turn and yield to terrorism. If we are not there, terrorism and extremism will proliferate and the problems that we are facing around the world will only be exacerbated and compounded and then, of course, we’re dealing with military and other operations that are very costly after the fact.” 

In a significant public statement, Director Beasley said the Saudi-led coalition forces are to blame for the bombing of the original cranes and a World Food Programme warehouse in recent years.

U.S. taxpayers have since contributed to the purchase of $3.9 million worth of new cranes, but Mr. Beasley says the Saudi-led coalition forces have also blocked the delivery of those cranes to the Port of Hodeidah. The Saudi government cites a myriad of reasons for blocking the delivery but today’s witnesses say they don’t hold water. Senator Young asked about Saudi government arguments why the cranes supposedly could not be delivered to the port of Hodeidah.  Matthew Nims, Acting Director of USAID’s Office of Food For Peace, rejected the Saudi claim saying:“there is no evidence of significant theft of humanitarian aid at Hodeida and it is safe enough for the cranes to be delivered.”

After hearing from the witnesses, Sen. Young asserted that: “the case can definitely be made that the Saudi’s are in fact violating customary, international, humanitarian law; rule 55.”