The Washington Post looks at the conditions within Banadir Hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “The scenes … reflect the immense challenge facing this Horn of Africa nation, already besieged by multiple woes, from civil war to radical Islamist militants to a weak transitional government incapable of governing effectively, despite massive support from the United States and its allies,” the newspaper writes (Raghavan, 9/7).
Food Security and Nutrition
Nancy Lindborg, USAIDâ€™s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, writes in this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the U.S. “continue[s] to call on all parties involved to allow unfettered humanitarian access to Somalis in need.” She continues, “The unfortunate reality is that Somalia is the most difficult operating environment for humanitarians in the world today,” adding that “unless we — the international community — can get access to provide humanitarian assistance to southern Somalia, the already horrific situation will get worse. Without access, the number of people in crisis will increase, and famine will continue to spread in Somalia” (9/6).
Reuters examines how budget debates in Congress “could undo” President Barack Obama’s “‘smart power’ approach, which elevates diplomacy and development alongside military power as guarantors of U.S. security in a rapidly changing world.” Programs run through the State Department and USAID that provide “[f]ood aid to hungry countries, … improved medical services for expectant mothers and the U.S. response to natural disasters such as earthquakes and droughts could be hit in a major scale-back of U.S. assistance,” the news agency writes.
The U.N. “announced Monday that Somalia’s famine had spread to a sixth area within the country, with officials warning that 750,000 people could die in the next few months unless aid efforts were scaled up,” the New York Times reports (Gettleman/Kyama, 9/5).
In this New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog post, journalist and author Tina Rosenberg examines the contrasts between refugee situations in rural camps — such as Dadaab in Kenya, where tens of thousands have sought relief from drought and famine in Somalia — and more urban areas, such as cities in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, where approximately 1.6 million Iraqi refugees are living. “At Dadaab, [refugees] receive food, medical care, basic shelter — the emergency relief they need,” but “[t]he camp lacks the money to provide even subsistence rations” and “the refugees give up their rights to move freely and to work,” she writes. In urban areas, refugees “get help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with an ATM card that allows them to withdraw money every month. … They buy their own food and rent their own apartments. They use the local schools and health clinics,” Rosenberg says.
Progress In Reducing Child Mortality Rates At Somalia, Ethiopia Border Refugee Camps Is Slow, U.S. Official Says
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Reuben Brigety, “[t]he top U.S. official for refugee issues, … says that despite intensive efforts, relief agencies have made little progress in reducing child mortality rates at refugee camps along Somalia’s border with Ethiopia,” VOA News reports. Brigety, “comment[ing] as he returned from Dollo Ado, a sprawling camp complex in Ethiopia that houses 120,000 refugees from famine-stricken southern Somalia … tells VOA that humanitarian agencies have made impressive progress in establishing health facilities and registering the backlog of refugees arriving daily from Somaliaâ€™s famine zone. But he said children are still dying at an alarming rate of malnutrition and other complications, such as measles,” the news agency writes.
At a public forum on the famine in the Horn of Africa held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the U.S. is pledging an additional $23 million in grants to support famine relief efforts, bringing the total commitment from the United States to $600 million,” the Associated Press/KSTP reports (Theisen, 8/31). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) also attended the forum, which was moderated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and drew about 350 people, including many in the local Somali community, KARE 11 writes (Croman, 8/31).
“U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighboring countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Our objective is to create conditions for Somalis to be able to live in Somalia and for Somali refugees, when they have the opportunity, to go back home safely,’ Guterres added,” the news agency notes. “Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades,” AFP writes (8/30).
“Erratic weather has exacerbated food insecurity in one of Indonesia’s driest regions,” including the districts of West Timor (TTS), Nusa Tengarra Timor (NTT), and North Central Timor (TTU), “leaving farmers and families hoping for the best as October’s planting season approaches,” IRIN reports. “The availability of food is a constant issue in … the mostly undeveloped eastern province where an estimated 30 percent live below the poverty line on an average income of US$280 a year” and “[m]ore than half of all children younger than five are underweight and stunted, according to the Nutrition Security and Food Security report [.pdf] on NTT in 2010,” the news service writes.
“Giving vitamin A supplements to children under the age of five in developing countries could save 600,000 lives a year, researchers claim” in a paper published Thursday in the British Medical Journal, BBC News reports. “UK and Pakistani experts assessed 43 studies involving 200,000 children, and found deaths were cut by 24 percent if children were given the vitamin … And they say taking it would also cut rates of measles and diarrhea,” the news agency writes.