In this month’s Guardian Focus global development podcast, the newspaper “look[s] at the unfolding crisis in the Horn and focus[es] in on Somalia, where conflict and political instability pose steep challenges for short-term relief and long-term development â€¦ To discuss these issues, Madeleine Bunting is joined in the studio by…
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
UNICEF has warned that “[c]ontinuing fighting in various parts of Yemen, which has recently displaced thousands of people especially in Abyan Governorate and the Arhab District of Sana’a, could compromise the nutritional status of those affected â€¦ potentially increase[ing] morbidity and mortality rates, especially among children under five,” IRIN reports. While “[t]he International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reported in December 2010 that Yemen had the highest prevalence of child malnutrition among all Middle East and North African countries â€¦ the condition of many children had been worsened by displacement,” Geert Cappelaere, a UNICEF representative in Yemen, told the news service.
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.
“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).
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.
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).
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).
The news from the Horn of Africa is “mixed,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” reports, adding, “More food is getting through and security has improved for now, but tens of thousands of children have already died and many more are at risk.” According to NPR, “Aid groups were pleased last week when al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, pulled out of the capital, Mogadishu. That made a dangerous country a little bit less so for aid workers” (Keleman, 8/10).