East Africa: Some saved but millions more face tragedy

12/08/2011

East Africa Crisis News Story
Somali refugees wait in lines for aid at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo by Laura Sheahen/Catholic Relief Services

There is hope for millions of East African families who can still be saved from tragedy if the Australian and international community are willing to avert this human catastrophe.

“People can survive and that is happening every day since the world began to engage in this shocking drought,” Caritas Australia Humanitarian Emergency Group Project Coordinator, Richard Forsythe said.

“But it just isn’t enough. We’re talking about 12.5 million people. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this humanitarian disaster.

“Millions more are in deep trouble. In their tens of thousands, they are migrating through searing desert heat in a desperate attempt to get food and water.”

“Australia and the world needs to realise just how critical this situation is or an inexplicable number of people will perish.”

Caritas Australia has a strong presence in Kenya. Statistics from the region are frightening:

  • There has been a six-fold increase in the mortality of children under five and Kenya may also join Somalia in being declared a famine
  • 25 per cent of new arrivals (specifically children) to Kenya are malnourished
  • In all, 1,300 Somalian and Ethiopian arrivals every day to Dadaab refugee camp. This is not sustainable
  • One quarter of the population of Ethiopia (7.5 million people) are displaced and moving within Ethiopia, Kenya and beyond the region of the Horn of Africa

So far Caritas Australia has had success in the following areas:

  • Food distribution including food/cash vouchers for work/assets, and supplementary feeding for the most vulnerable people
  • Delivery of potable water – water harvesting and storage (tanks), rehabilitation and drilling of boreholes, hygiene education and provision of aqua tabs

Livestock survival is a major concern and Caritas has been engaged in destocking, restocking and hay provision.

“But the sad reality is many will not survive, particularly the aged, women and children. We need to do what we can now,” Mr Forsythe said.

Mr Forsythe has been working in aid and development in Africa for over 20 years. He has a deep understanding of the region.

East Africa Crisis Appeal go to: www.caritasaustralia.org.au/EastAfricaCrisis or phone tollfree 1800 024 413.


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