It’s not too often that the United Nations uses the word “famine” to describe humanitarian emergencies. But the serious food crisis in the horn of Africa, where the UN estimates that 10 million people are at risk, including 2 million malnourished children, is deserving of such an alarming title.
The response to the famine, which is particularly severe in Somalia, has been too little too late. With millions of people on the brink of starvation and aid deliveries complicated by Islamist militants’ control of the famine zones, the response is both necessary and urgent. Read this New York Times article to learn more.
The combination of one of East Africa’s most severe droughts in 60 years and Somalia’s unrelenting conflict has exhausted the country’s food supply. Two years of erratic rain have resulted in brutally reduced access to drinking water and major crop and livestock loss. Speaking at the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that a total of $1.6 billion was needed to help, with about $300 million of it required in the next two months to mount an “adequate response.”
Many of those who are able are fleeing the most affected country, Somalia, using what little funds they have left to pay for buses. Thousands are walking hundreds of miles through desert regions with children by their sides or slung to their backs. Thousands of Somali refugees have been crossing the borders of Kenya and Ethiopia every day.
That’s where refugee and relief programs supported by ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA as a whole meet. Luley Hassan Aden is 19 years old, living on the outskirts of Hagadera Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya. This is where many people fleeing Somalia, like herself, are settling, and it is one of the places where the Lutheran World Federation is serving.
The ELCA’s response to the current drought in the horn of Africa started in December of 2010. That’s when the ELCA pre-positioned $250,000 for use in East Africa to meet the needs of the local population in future disasters. These funds have proven to be a great blessing and are at work, helping those who are affected by the famine. Lutheran World Federation has the strongest roots in these refugee camps and is already using the ELCA funds to provide water in Dadaab to both refugees and the local population and enriched porridge for those older adults and children too weak to take solid food. The ELCA is sending an additional $400,000 to assist Ethiopian and Kenya communities at increasing risk as this crisis unfolds, as well as Somali refugees who are in search of refuge in those countries.
Luley was visited by an LWF block leader who took her details and gave her a ration card for food distribution. She was also visited by a team of staff in the camp. “We found her in an unbearable state and based on the criteria we use, she was given priority. We have done follow-up visits and provided her with a tent to sleep in” explains Keinan, a LWF social worker based in Hagadera.
We need your help! Donate to help support the work of the ELCA to refugees fleeing Somalia and other areas affected by the severe drought. Also your prayers are greatly appreciated! The act of leaving your home in search of resources can be a terrifying and exhausting activity, with some people moving as far at 300 miles on foot. Please keep these people in your prayers that God will continue to protect them on their journey.