The famine in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and unless there is “a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions” in Somalia, Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters on Monday, Reuters reports. Amos said the U.N. needs an additional $1.4 billion to help those in need and that the African Union would soon hold a funding conference, the news agency notes (Charbonneau, 8/1).
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
UNICEF on Tuesday “appeal[ed] to the air transport sector to provide free and discounted cargo space to bring emergency food supplies into the region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, warned in its latest situation report that “[c]hild mortality rates among Somali refugees in Kenya are on the rise and there are ‘alarmingly high rates’ of malnutrition,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (8/3).
“President Obama has approved an additional $105 million for ‘urgent humanitarian relief efforts’ in the Horn of Africa, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced in a statement Monday afternoon,” Politico’s “Politico44” blog reports (8/8). “Carney says the money will help provide food, shelter, water, and sanitation and health services to those in need,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post (8/8). The money will come out of the Emergency Relief and Migration Assistance Fund, Carney said, adding that the U.S. has provided about $565 million in humanitarian aid so far this year, Reuters notes (8/9).
Clinton Announces Additional $17M For Horn Of Africa, Urges Long-Term Investment In Agriculture, Food Aid
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in a speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute on Thursday that the U.S. has pledged an additional $17 million in emergency food aid to the Horn of Africa, with $12 million going to humanitarian operations in Somalia, Voice of America writes (Baragona, 8/11). “Clinton said â€¦ the new money – which comes on top of $105 million in U.S. assistance announced on Monday – would bring total U.S. humanitarian aid to the drought-hit region to more than $580 million this year,” Reuters reports (8/11).
“This week the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launches a global campaign â€“ ‘It’s a matter of life and death’ â€“ which aims to improve security and delivery of effective and impartial health care in situations of armed conflict and other contexts of widespread violence,” Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British Medical Association, writes in a BMJ editorial.
The World Food Programme (WFP) does not plan “to reduce aid to Somalia following allegations that international food shipments there are being diverted,” the Associated Press reports. WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume “told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the WFP investigation so far has no evidence of a large-scale fraud scheme,” the news agency writes (8/16). Noting it has “strong controls â€¦ in place” in Somalia, “WFP said it was ‘confident the vast majority of humanitarian food is reaching starving people in Mogadishu,’ adding that AP reports of ‘thousands’ of bags of stolen food would equal less than 1 percent of one month’s distribution for Somalia,” the Associated Press writes in another article (8/15).
Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) write in a USA Today opinion piece about their visit last week to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, stating, “Amid the devastation, we saw the impact of [U.S. and international] aid. We saw inexpensive oral rehydration packs bring listless babies back to life. We saw children getting vitamins and vaccines that will stop the spread of deadly diseases throughout the camps.”
“Ten Somali children under the age of five are dying every day of hunger-related causes in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, according to the U.N. refugee agency,” the Guardian reports (Rice, 8/16). UNHCR “said high child mortality levels had been compounded by a suspected measles outbreak at the 25,000-capacity Kobe camp,” but children are now receiving vaccinations, according to BBC News (8/16).
During a visit to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Wednesday pledged an additional $41.5 million in aid to Somalia, to be distributed through UNICEF, BBC News reports. The funding will enable UNICEF “to provide supplementary rations for up to 192,000 people â€¦ supplies to vaccinate 800,000 children against measles â€¦ polio vaccines, vitamin A, and deworming supplies and equipment to help prevent malaria,” the news service writes (8/17). “Meanwhile, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries pledged $350 million in aid for Somalia at an emergency summit in Istanbul,” according to the Guardian.
FAO Holds Second Emergency Meeting On Famine; WHO Warns Of Cholera Spread; Turkish PM Visits Mogadishu
For the second time in one month, representatives of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held an emergency meeting on Thursday in Rome “to take stock of the humanitarian disaster” in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian reports (Tran, 8/18). The officials “called for a twin-pronged approach to tackle the food crisis, stressing immediate relief and the strengthening of the resilience of affected communities to enable them to cope with future shocks in the drought-prone region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/18).