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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.