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Aid Group Launches New Effort in Horn of Africa

  • Joe DeCapua

An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.

An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.

In four Horn of Africa countries, it’s estimated that more than 13 million people need food aid due to the severe drought. In one of them, Somalia, famine is continuing to spread. UN officials say about 750,000 people there are at risk of dying in the next four months if relief operations are not increased.

Big effort

The situation in the Horn of Africa is one of the topics discussed at this week’s Clinton Global Initiative in New York. At the meeting, the humanitarian organization Save the Children announced a new plan to feed two million people.

“I was just there about a month ago and the situation is not getting any better,” said Carolyn Mills, president and CEO. “So Save the Children’s making another big effort… because there are many, many kids in dire circumstances in the Horn.”

Save the Children has raised about $80 million for the latest campaign but hopes to raise another $20 million.

"So we’re able to put some more resources towards feeding more children,” she said. “We’re doing blanket feeding, emergency supplementary feeding for children under five years of age and pregnant and lactating moms in Ethiopia.”

Similar feeding programs are underway in Kenya, including refugee camps for Somalis.

“In Kenya, we are working a lot with kids that are coming alone to these camps. So their parents are putting them on a truck, maybe with neighbors, maybe not with anyone they know. And so when they get to the camp in Kenya, Save the Children is the one that really takes care of the kids when they get there,” she said.

In Ethiopia, it’s distributing water in the Dolo Ado area, where thousands of Somali refugees have crossed the border.

Mogadishu

The humanitarian organization also has a new operation in the Somali capital.

For most of the 20 years it’s been in Somalia, Save the Children has focused on the south-central part of the country. Now it also has access to Mogadishu.

“There are so many internally displaced [people] coming into Mogadishu,” she said, “We are doing feeding programs. We use something called Plumpy’nut, which is a product that’s for severely malnourished children and it actually has amazing results. And we can help these kids recover,” said Miles.

Awareness

The international community has been very generous, she said, but she believes many people still don’t realize the seriousness of the situation in the Horn. Save the Children plans to use social media to help get the word out.

The aid group also says it’s taking precautions for possible diarrhea and cholera outbreaks. Forecasters have predicted near normal seasonal rains through December. While the rains will help break the drought, they can also create conditions ripe for disease.

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