The drought that has hit the Horn of Africa is worsening and as the number of refugees grows, many are hoping so will aid from the international community.
Yesterday, the United States pledged an additional $5 million dollars to assist the people of Somalia on top of the $368 million that has been allocated out since last October. The people in the region have been hit by the trifecta of poverty, war and now this drought. Reuben Brigety, the State Department’s secretary for refugees told reporters in Addis Ababa yesterday:
“We are working in a robust fashion … to provide assistance once people become refugees and also studying very carefully what might be done in order to provide assistance to people inside Somalia.”
Still the money is a drop in the bucket, especially as the crisis worsens. Last week, Antonio Guterra, head of the United Nations’ refugee agency called the crisis in Somalia “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” Guterra, the current UNHCR chief, said donor countries would need to give “massive support” to the 380,000 refugees living in the region shared between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
During his tour, Guterra met with Muslima Aden, a Somali mother whose children died en route to a refugee camp in Dadaab. She told him:
“I became a bit insane after I lost them…I lost them in different times on my way.
The camps meant to host refugees in the region are currently overflowing at the UN says the malnutrition rate among children is nearing 50 percent.
However, Somalia’s troubles with the Al-Shebab rebels may keep many citizens form receiving support from the US. Last week USAID administrators made clear they would not be delivering aid to areas that were banned after US troops were sent into the region for raids in 2009. USAID Administrator Donald Stenberg said after visiting Ethiopia’s Dolo Ado region:
“We cannot provide anything that is interpreted as material support for a group that we consider to be a terrorist organization.”
According to IRIN:
Warning that thousands of people could die in the absence of immediate humanitarian assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that 80 percent of the 476,000 malnourished children in Somalia – up from 376,000 at the start of 2011 – live in areas controlled by Al-Shabab.