News / Africa

ICRC Starts Huge Food Distribution Operation In Somalia

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.
Lisa Schlein

The International Committee of the Red Cross has begun distributing food to tens of thousands of drought and war-affected people in southern and central Somalia.

The Red Cross says it aims to provide food for some 1.1 million people suffering from severe food shortages by December.

This first round of food distributions is taking place in the Gedo region, one of the hardest-hit areas of southern and central Somalia.  Red Cross aid workers there are providing 72,000 people with enough beans, oil and rice to cover their needs for one month.

ICRC spokeswoman Nicole Engelbrecht describes the situation of people living in southern and central Somalia as dire.  She tells VOA they are suffering from the consequences of long-standing conflict and severe drought.

“These are people who have not been able to plant anything and to harvest anything as a consequence," Engelbrecht says. "So, they really have very, very great difficulties in making ends meet and in surviving in that type of situation. They are the ones who most urgently need and we are starting in Gedo, but there are other distributions that will follow.”

An internally displaced Somali woman mourns near the body of her son, who died of malnourishment, next to their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Mogadishu, September 20, 2011. (Reuters)

The food distributions are taking place in a dangerous environment, areas that are controlled by the Islamist al-Shabab militants. The region is off-limits to most United Nations and private aid organizations. The Red Cross is one of only a few agencies allowed to operate there.

The ICRC has been working in the region for many years.  During that time, it says it has managed to gain the trust of all parties and persuade the rebel group that it has no political agenda.  Its only objective is to assist people in need.   

Somalia is the country most affected by the severe drought gripping the Horn of Africa.  The United Nations has warned that 750,000 people in Somalia who lack food are at risk of death without urgent help.

The Red Cross agrees its huge food distribution operation will keep many people alive.  But Nicole Engelbrecht tells VOA the food distributions will relieve only the immediate suffering of the people.

She says the ICRC is also working to give people the means to sustain their own livelihoods, so they can survive beyond the next harvest.

“So, it is very important that food distributions are carried out together with other means," says Engelbrecht. "And, what we are doing at the same time is we provide seed and fertilizer for 240,000 farmers ahead of the planting season, which is soon to start.  And, they can plant these seeds and, hopefully, all this maize, sorghum, cowpea and sesame should be ready to be harvested by the beginning of the year if now the rainy season goes well.”

But even if the rain is abundant, Engelbrecht cautions the harvest season will provide only 30 percent of the country’s annual food production.

She says the harvest will help Somalis recover from the devastating effects of the drought, but the food security situation will remain fragile for some time.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid