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Ellison Visits Somalia, Kenya in Whirlwind Tour

The Minnesota congressman was on a humanitarian trip to discuss the status of Somali refugees and U.S. remittances with the new Somali government.

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) recently returned from a humanitarian trip to eastern Africa. The 5th District representative visited Mogadishu, Somalia and Nairobi, Kenya last week to discuss the status of Somali refugees in the region as well as U.S. remittances.

Ellison was the first member of Congress to visit Somalia in nearly three years, on the heels of the U.S. government recognizing the Somali government earlier this year.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, leaders of the new Somali government, the Mayor of Mogadishu, the Somali Chamber of Commerce, the director of the American Refugee Committee and several Somali-Americans from Minneapolis met with Ellison in Mogadishu.

From there, Ellison traveled to Kenya to visit the new Nairobi project of the Center for Victims of Torture. CVT's work is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration.

Ellison was also updated on the Dadaad refugee complex in northeast Kenya, which houses more than 380,000 refugees—most of whom are Somali. 

"Many Minnesotans have family members who live in refugee camps in Kenya,” Ellison said in a statement. “The United States must work with the Kenyan government and international aid organizations to improve living conditions in Kenya’s refugee camps. We have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially those forced to flee their home countries because of violence, persecution or natural disasters.”

He also met with U.S. Special Representative to Somalia James Swan and U.S Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.

Ellison Talks Budget Cuts, Sequester with WCCO

With the March 1 deadline looming for Congress to reach some sort of compromise deal to substantial budget cuts, Keith Ellison paid a visit to WCCO's Sunday Morning Show to discuss the budget issues with Esme Murphy.

The $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to federal spending, often referred to as "the sequester," will begin to kick in Friday, unless some sort of deal is made. Ellison said there's a substantial chance it could happen, but said it's not a guarantee "given that at multiple points along my congressional career we got up to the 11th-hour and come up with some kind of deal."

Ellison said constituents don't necessarily want their representatives giving in to the other side simply to avoid budget crises, but said the series of "manufactured crises"—the debt ceiling, the sequester, the expiration of tax cuts and the the continuing resolution in a few weeks—aren't necessary, either.

"They create uncertainty, they create job losses, they diminish our growth—which we need to literally pay down the deficit—so it's awful policy and I hope Americans of all stripes demand that it come to an end," Ellison said. "But I hope they also understand that we can't just capitulate or a lot of people will suffer."

Jim Grossman March 24, 2013 at 06:12 AM
Sounds like a wonderful vacation on the backs of taxpayers. Think of how that money could have been spent for the benefit and support of folks back in the good olde USA.
guy davidson March 25, 2013 at 04:47 AM
yes but that sort of thing... local issues.. is so beneath him.
Michael Hindin April 09, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Representative Ellison earned a great deal of respect from nonprofit organizations representing all of the diverse cultural and faith groups in Minnesota as a state representative. Because of that, Republican President George Bush asked Representative Ellison to act as a goodwill ambassador to the Middle East and North Africa. Democrat Keith Ellison responded as his patriotic duty to help build trust and friendship for America among newly emerging governments. There are a significant number of Somali Americans in the 5th district who are (like my grand fathers 100 years ago) concerned about supporting their families in a war torn country. Representative Ellison has tried to assist them in safely supporting their refugee families financially also like my grandfathers did. These trips are about creating partnerships with emerging countries that are opportunities for both business and strategic alliances. Creating a stable government in Somalia will mean safe streets, fewer refugees, resumption of commerce, and a total rejection of al qaeda like organizations. Piracy and lawlessness will end with a stable government police and military. Many members of congress travel abroad for a variety of trade and foreign policy reasons. Congressman Ellison regrettably lost his temper but that is understandable after years of relentless attacks on his religious faith by Republican candidates and right wing talkers.
mike savick April 09, 2013 at 04:46 PM
You prefer Africa as a Chinese colony?
mike savick April 09, 2013 at 04:48 PM
War zones are hardly vacation areas, but if you think so I can give you the locations of US Military recruiters.

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