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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.