July 17, 2011 13:01 ET

Minister Oda Travels to Drought-Stricken East Africa and South Sudan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 17, 2011) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, is travelling to the drought-stricken region of East Africa this week to visit the Dadaab refugee camps and meet with government officials and aid groups in the midst of the severe drought that is victimizing over 10 million people.

This level of drought has not been seen in Africa for over 60 years. Over 1,000 people, mainly women and children, are arriving daily at the Dadaab refugee camps, seeking refuge and humanitarian assistance.

"This is a very important trip for me as I have observed the growing humanitarian need in Eastern Africa that is affecting Somalia, Ethiopia, and other neighbouring countries. The slow onset of the situation has now grown into a serious humanitarian crisis, and Canada will support the victims of the drought," stated Minister Oda. "It is important that the most vulnerable, including women and children, who have faced near starvation and violence, get the help they need when they reach the refugee camps. We must all work together to ensure their survival and put proper facilities into place at the camps to prevent any further hardship as they endure this drought forecast to extend into next year."

The Minister will also visit newly independent South Sudan to meet with government officials and others to assess how Canada can best support the development of South Sudan into a lawful, prosperous and democratic country.

"This is an opportunity for Canada to build a productive and positive relationship with South Sudan as a newly independent nation," said Minister Oda. "The Government of Canada congratulates South Sudan on its newly acquired independence and recognizes the many challenges it will face as it develops and grows. I want to ensure that Canada's contribution to its future will be effective and help realize the outcomes its people have struggled for over the past decades. That is why it is important to establish a dialogue with the newly formed government and local representatives to establish how best Canada can contribute to their aspirations."

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