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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid