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IFRC Issues Renewed Appeal For Resources To Help Food Insecure People In Horn Of Africa

The world is slowly losing the fight against hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which renewed its call for emergency food supplies, water and recovery activities to help about 2.5 million food insecure people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, Xinhua/CRIENGLISH.com reports. The IFRC’s revised emergency appeal seeks $67 million to assist 2.5 million people over five years.

“The battle against persistent, chronic malnutrition and hunger is at risk of slowly being lost. Our message to the world is simple: in the Horn of Africa, hunger, a result of chronic, major deficit in calorie intake, kills,” Asha Mohammed, head of IFRC’s Eastern Africa zone, said in a statement issued in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday.

IFRC first highlighted the situation in 2008 and “has continued to assist more than 465,000 people in the four countries,” according to Xinhua/CRIENGLISH.com. The organization has used about $9.2 million from its own funds to combat hunger in the Horn of Africa, “last year’s emergency appeal only received a meagre 9 percent coverage,” the news agency writes.

IFRC said the coordinated work of authorities and the Red Cross Red Crescent in these regions has been complicated by outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera. In addition, a lack of resources and inadequate assistance has already resulted in internal conflicts in Kenya.

However, food assistance is “only a fraction of the solution to peoples’ problems,” said Roger Bracke, who is leading IFRC’s work in the Horn of Africa. “Food-aid is critical but its impact ends as soon as it gets digested,” Bracke said, adding, “This operation urgently needs more support to enable it to assist the worst affected to develop alternative and additional sources of income that will allow them to become self-sustainable without total reliance on animals or rains” (Xinhua/CRIENGLISH.com, 6/25).

Kenya Will Receive Most IFRC Funds

Business Daily reports on the “food crisis” in Kenya, which has been exacerbated due to “[u]npredictable rainfall patterns, low harvests and the displacement of people during last year’s post-election violence.”

“Most of the funds” requested in the IFRC’s renewed appeal will “be used in Kenya where the agency said almost 3.5 million people had their food supplies interrupted, leading to food insecurity,” according to Business Daily. Inadequate rains, “extremely low” harvests, and an influx of refugees from Somalia, including the deteriorating situation at the Daadab refugee camp, have contributed to the situation.

According to the publication, the Kenya Red Cross Society aims to reach almost 1 million people through food distributions, and an additional 500,000 children through a school-feeding program. The IFRC said that emergency efforts will focus on providing food assistance, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (Menya, Business Daily, 6/25).

Global Financial Situation Affecting Cost Of Food In Somalia; Hospital Patients Go Hungry

In Somalia, the global financial slowdown has cut remittances from Somalis living in other countries during a time of widespread displacement and significant food price inflation, Mark Bowden, a U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the country, said, Reuters reports. “The money that the diaspora sends, we know has gone down by 25 percent this year and remittances of at least $1 billion a year come into Somalia,” Bowden said.

Reuters writes, “An estimated 3.4 million Somalis depend on food aid, the country is facing its worst drought in a decade and an upsurge in violence … is making the situation worse.” Increasing insecurity and drought has boosted food price inflation to 300 percent in many parts of Somalia, Bowden said, adding, “There is a real danger that Somalia can become more dependent on humanitarian assistance than never before” (Nyakairu, Reuters, 6/23).

IRIN examines the situation in hospitals in Mogadishu, Somalia, where patients are “facing hunger.”

“Hospitals in Mogadishu have reportedly been overwhelmed by the number of the injured seeking treatment since fighting intensified in early May,” IRIN writes. “Patients are going hungry because we don’t have the means to feed them,” Dahir Mohamed – deputy director of Medina hospital, the largest in the city – said.

He said relatives used to bring food to patients, “but now the relatives are either in hospital themselves or have fled the city to safer areas,” adding that entire families were now in hospitals “with no one out there to support them.” Mohamed called on aid agencies to provide “wet feeding in the hospitals… It is a very desperate situation and I hope someone will come to our aid” (IRIN, 6/22).

BBC Examines Nutrition Sachets To Combat Hunger

BBC examines the use of peanut flavored nutrition sachets to help children “on the brink of death from starvation around the world.”

The sachets “contain a high-energy food crammed with high-protein peanut, milk, sugar, oils and fortified with extra vitamins and minerals,” and “can be eaten directly from the packet, do not require refrigeration or mixing with clean water – often in short supply – and can be stored for years,” BBC writes.

The article includes information about the companies that create these type of products, food fortification and the effects of the economic recession (Anderson, BBC, 6/24).