News / Africa

    ICRC Scales Up Emergency Relief for More Than 1 Million Somalis

    A Somali woman from southern Somalia, washes clothes outside her makeshift shelter in a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 4, 2011
    A Somali woman from southern Somalia, washes clothes outside her makeshift shelter in a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 4, 2011
    Lisa Schlein

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is dramatically increasing its emergency operations in central and southern Somalia to assist more than one million people affected by drought and conflict.  The organization is appealing for $86 million in additional funding, bringing its total budget for Somalia this year to more than $155 million.

    At the beginning of this year, Somalia was the seventh largest humanitarian operation for the Red Cross.  The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, say the alarming situation of drought and famine has now moved Somalia into first position, ahead of such countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Libya.

    "If we are enlarging the budget to such an extent, we must be very worried… Now the situation is really particularly serious, with hundreds of thousands of Somalis really facing life-threatening food and water shortages," said Kellenberger.   

    The current desperate situation is the result of 20 years of armed conflict and the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in 60 years.  The effects of previous dry spells, high inflation and the worldwide rise in food and fuel prices are further aggravating this long-standing crisis.  

    The Red Cross is focusing its humanitarian operation in famine-stricken central and southern Somalia.  The area is under the control of the Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabab, which has forbidden access to the area to most humanitarian agencies. The ICRC is one of a few organizations allowed to operate there.  

    Kellenberger dismisses Western concerns about relief being diverted from the people for whom it is meant and falling into the hands of al-Shabab.  He says the ICRC has made it clear to the militant group that it is in charge of assessing the situation, and that its staff will be monitoring the distribution of aid to make sure it reaches those who need it.

    The United Nations on Wednesday declared three more regions in southern Somalia famine zones and says it expects famine to spread across the entire region within the next four to six weeks.

    U.S. aid agencies estimate about 29,000 children have died in southern and central Somalia in the last 90 days.  The Red Cross says it cannot confirm this as it has no reliable mortality figures.

    The ICRC spokeswoman for the Horn of Africa, Nicole Englebrecht, tells VOA the nutritional state of children under age five has deteriorated alarmingly.  She says this is a major reason for the decision to dramatically increase its humanitarian operation in Somalia.

    "There we have seen a dramatic increase in malnutrition rates among children under five years old," said Englebrecht.  "I can give you an example.  What we have seen is that now the emergency threshold of 20 percent malnutrition rates among these children have been reached in southern and central Somalia… That is very high, yes… That is something that we have not seen before.  So, it is a dramatic increase."  

    At the same time, Englebrecht notes the children who reach ICRC facilities are fortunate because they will be treated and will survive.  She says it is the many children who cannot reach such help who will die.

    About 12.5 million people throughout the Horn of Africa face starvation.  This includes more than 2.3 million acutely malnourished children.  The U.N. Children's Fund warns more than half a million will die if they do not get help within the coming weeks.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora