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Kenya's Ambassador to the U.S. Kicks off Ambassadors' Speakers Forum on Thursday

September 27, 2011 — Kenya's ambassador to the United States, Elkanah Odembo, kicks off the University of Virginia's annual Ambassadors' Speakers Forum on Thursday.

The east African nation is hosting more than a half-million refugees from neighboring Somalia, which is suffering from a debilitating famine and a cholera outbreak.

Kenyan Prime Minster Raila Odinga, in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly, called Sunday on world leaders and nongovernmental organizations to commit to eradicating Somalia's food crisis, which was triggered by drought.

Odembo's talk takes place Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Nau Hall auditorium, with a reception to follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Meredith Woo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, will deliver opening remarks. She and Odembo attended Bowdoin College together.

The Ambassadors' Speakers Forum is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs.

Vice Provost Gowher Rizvi said the forum is a great opportunity for students. "The Ambassadors' Speakers Forum provides students on Grounds another way to get connected to our global community, by learning from leaders from around the world right here in Charlottesville," Rizvi said.

Switzerland's deputy chief of mission, Guillaume Scheurer, will speak Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Dome Room of the Rotunda.

— By Jane Kelly

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