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).
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
In response “to an urgent appeal from the WHO,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said on Monday that the country’s government is releasing $143 million “in frozen funds from Moammar Qaddafi’s regime and sending the money to the World Health Organization to buy medicine for the Libyan population,” according to Associated Press/Forbes. “Rosenthal said Monday he was able to free up the money only after [the] United Nations approved the plan, which will see medicines distributed to civilians in towns and cities held by both rebels and forces loyal to Qaddafi,” the AP writes (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.”
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, writes about her recent visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “There is something remarkable about seeing how U.S. contributions â€“ both from our government and the private sector â€“ can be transformed into something as concrete and life-saving as a simple meal for a little girl. Washington has committed around $580 million to the relief effort. Hopefully that will save a lot more children here in Dadaab and around the Horn. The international community has provided around $1.4 billion, but it’s not enough â€“ I know that and we continue to push for more support from other donors. But it is a start and it is making a real and lasting difference,” she writes (8/12).
Humanitarian Agencies Stand By In Pakistan As Floods Kill Up To 25, Displace Estimated 50,000 Others
“Predictions by Pakistan’s Meteorological Department of more rain in the days ahead have raised flood fears, especially in Sindh Province, as the monsoon season peaks,” IRIN reports (8/17). “United Nations humanitarian agencies in Pakistan are on standby after sustained rains have reportedly affected up to 750,000 people in Punjab and Sindh provinces, killing up to 25 and displacing some 50,000 others,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) conducted informal assessments last week in some areas where there had been a significant loss of homes, and district authorities were already relocating families to shelters,” the news agency writes.
“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).
August 19 is recognized worldwide as World Humanitarian Day, when “[w]e honor â€¦ those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions,” a Manila Bulletin editorial states. “World Humanitarian Day is a collaborative global celebration of humanitarian aid work joining the United Nations and over 500 national and international non-governmental organizations aimed at engaging and inspiring the general public to get involved,” the editorial notes.
A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights a White House call “with faith-based organizations Wednesday afternoon to discuss efforts in the Horn of Africa to combat the extensive famine brought on by a severe drought in the region, the worst seen in decades.” The…