American Red Cross Pledges Up to $1 Million for Horn of Africa
WASHINGTON — The American Red Cross today announced a pledge of up to $1 million for the evolving humanitarian crisis in eastern Africa, continuing its history of support to the region.
With 2011 classified as the driest year on record in the eastern Horn of Africa, the health, livelihoods and food security of millions of Somalis, Ethiopians and Kenyans are at serious risk.
“The need is dire at best as families grapple with the lack of food, water and health services, and the American Red Cross is eager to support our local partners that are tackling malnutrition, providing water and medical care, stabilizing livelihoods, and mitigating other consequences of this complex crisis,” said Apu Patel, regional director for Africa with the American Red Cross.
With water sources dwindling, rural families are increasingly consuming untreated water, collected directly from streams and rivers, putting them at serious risk from waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Fields used by farmers for grazing livestock have dried up in the worsening drought, causing many families to uproot and migrate in search of viable food and water sources. The rising cost of fuel and food as well as political insecurity in some areas of Somalia has also exacerbated problems.
“Many people are living in the open or in makeshift camps,” Patel said. “They represent a heavy burden for the host communities that share their scarce resources with them. Most of the displaced have nothing left to sell and cannot buy food, which is resulting in even higher malnutrition rates among displaced people.”
In the face of this growing humanitarian tragedy, the Somali Red Crescent, with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is expanding its existing outpatient therapeutic feeding programs in southern Somalia. Together, they are also launching an additional feeding program for malnourished children under five and other vulnerable groups, such as pregnant and lactating women, and recruiting additional nurses and nutritionists to visit people in the worst affected areas. The two organizations are also complementing the feeding programs with targeted food distributions.
In Somalia, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are also offering medical treatments as well as distributing seeds, farming tools, irrigation pumps and fishing equipment to help stabilize livelihoods. And in Kenya and Ethiopia, the Red Cross is helping those affected by the drought through school feeding programs, well rehabilitation, water trucking and general food distribution.
Even with these activities, the region’s current and predicted need far outweighs the humanitarian response. With no likelihood of improvement until early 2012, the situation will require large scale and sustained humanitarian assistance.
“The tragedy in the Horn of Africa is chronic, and even as we respond with emergency aid for these new developments, we must also work on longer-term solutions,” Patel said. “The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network was one of the first organizations to sound the alarm and launch an international response, but the solution to this crisis is a long-term commitment to building up resilience and capacity within the region’s most vulnerable communities.”
Gifts to the American Red Cross can support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the drought and current humanitarian emergency in Horn of Africa. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. The public may visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
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