Entries in Drought (8)


Superman, Batman Join Fight to Save Horn of Africa

Justice League fights hunger. (DC Entertainment)(NEW YORK) -- As the months of drought and famine drag on in the impoverished Horn of Africa, some heroes are coming to the rescue: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, along with the rest of DC Comics’ The Justice League, are the new face of a joint campaign called “We Can Be Heroes."

A joint advertising campaign by corporate partners DC Entertainment and its parent company Time Warner, Inc, (which also includes Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., HBO), and non-profits Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps., seeks to use the famed comic book heroes to raise awareness and funds for the hunger crisis in severely affected regions of East Africa.

Time Warner Inc. has set a fundraising goal of $2 million over the next two years and will match any donations (up to $2 million). Each of the non-profit organizations will split evenly the funds donated by Time Warner.

The companies announced the campaign last week at a press conference in New York.

“We are a global company, and this is a global issue,” said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "By marshaling our expertise in consumer and fan engagement and creating global awareness, we hope we’re able to inspire others to join us in becoming ‘heroes’ and make a difference in the Horn of Africa.”

Time Warner will run ads and public service announcements featuring the Justice League online and in comics, television programs and possibly in theaters.  Special Justice League merchandise will also be available for sale.

According to the World Bank’s latest comprehensive statistics, drought has put nearly 13.3 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid across Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, and aid agencies have not been able to help all of them. The U.S. State Department estimates that as many as four million people will remain at risk of starvation through August.

Drought, in addition to pervasive war in countries outside of the Horn like Sudan and Tanzania, has caused millions of refugees to flee to already-resource-depleted areas of East Africa.

Carrie Welch, senior vice president of external relations at the International Resource Committee, thinks that the campaign will help turn public attention to the suffering in the region.

“It’s not on the front page, not the top of the news,” she said. “People will be affected by this for years to come, so any kind of creative, innovative thinking is good for us and very good for the people that we serve.”

Welch hopes that the advertising may attract the attention of children, who have the power to help influence where the charity dollars may go, though they are often forgotten by organizations seeking donations.

“Kids see this and they go home and begin to talk to their parents about the crisis in the horn of East Africa,” Welch said, adding that her 13-year-old daughter is excited about the campaign. “It adds a touch of coolness to what I do,” she said.

Click here to donate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


African Delegates Discuss Management of Famine in Horn of Africa

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- Representatives of nations affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa gathered in Nairobi to explore ways to manage the crisis. Among those in attendance at the U.N. compound were delegates from the host country, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The Kenyan foreign minister, Moses Wetangula, says there's not just one reason behind the migration of people in the region.

"Why are we having economic refugees from Somalia running to Kenya? Many of them are not coming because they are political refugees, the majority of them are economic refugees," he said.

Wetangula added that the west could do a lot more to help.

"We are continuously reminding the rest of the world that if NATO can engineer an attack on Libya and spend billions of dollars to drive out Gadhafi, they can spend a little of that to save the dying people in the Horn of Africa," Wetangula said. "If America can spend billions of dollars in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, surely they can spend a little fraction of that to build dams in these dry lands of the Horn of Africa, to help normalize Somalia, to help produce food, to settle communities."

The U.N. is calling the drought the worst in 60 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US to Provide Additional $28 Million in Aid for Somalia

STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In response to both the food shortage triggered by the severe drought in the Horn of Africa and the United Nations' declaration of famine in parts of Somalia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Wednesday that the U.S. will be increasing its aid to the affected regions.

In addition to the $431 million in food and non-food emergency assistance it has given the Horn of Africa this year, the United States will be providing $28 million in aid for Somalians and those who have sough refuge in Kenya.

Clinton also called on the international community to offer more assistance.

"The United States cannot solve the crisis in the Horn alone.  All donors in the international community must commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises," she said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


United Nations Officially Declares Famine in Somalia

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- The United Nations officially declared Wednesday two regions in southern Somalia as being affected by famine.  Previously, the crisis was classified as an "emergency."

Famine is defined by malnutrition rates among children exceeding 30 percent, and where more than two people per 10,000 are dying per day.

The two regions where famine is occurring -- southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle -- are controlled completely by the al Qaeda-affiliated group Al Shabab.

On Wednesday, some aid groups -- both publicly and privately -- have partly blamed the United States for the crisis.  They say the application of anti-terrorism funding laws by the U.S. government on aid groups forced to pay "taxes" to Al Shabaab in 2010 resulted in many agencies, such as the World Food Programme and Mercy Corps, pulling out of the very regions now worst-hit.

"While U.N. humanitarian agencies have welcomed the recent statement by Al Shabaab requesting international assistance in southern Somalia, the inability of food agencies to work in the region since early 2010 has prevented the U.N. from reaching the very hungry -- especially children -- and has contributed to the current crisis," the release said.

Mark Bowden, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, is calling on the world to make "exceptional efforts" to help keep the famine from spreading to the other drought-stricken areas.

“More than ever, Somali people need and deserve our full attention.  At this time of crisis, we must make exceptional efforts to support Somalis wherever they are in need and expect that all parties will do the same,” Bowden said.

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalia Refugee Camp: Ambulance Driver Tries to Help Pregnant Refugees

File Photo. Refugees wait in the registration area of the Dagahaley refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 19, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya.Oli Scarff/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- Omar Abdullahi Ali has perhaps one of the world's toughest and most heartbreaking jobs -- driving an ambulance in the middle of one of the worst humanitarian crises in history.

Several years of drought have decimated crops and livestock in Somalia, forcing hundreds of thousands of refugees to seek help in camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. The Dadaab complex in eastern Kenya is the largest refugee camp in the world. Almost 400,000 Somalis now call it home, and more than 1,400 arrive every day.

The rainy season is not expected until October at the earliest, and the ongoing presence of al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups in Somalia have made it nearly impossible for international aid to get to the camps.

For Abdullahi Ali, it's not just the overwhelming crush of people in need, as dozens starve or are afflicted with infectious disease. There are no paramedics to help and no medical equipment. His ambulance, which really isn't an ambulance at all, just a white all-terrain vehicle, doesn't even have a siren, so Abdullahi Ali uses the horn to let patients know he is coming.

Out here, almost no one has a phone. Medical emergencies are reported through a loose word-of-mouth network that will hopefully reach Abdullahi Ali's walkie-talkie.

Locating patients among the sea of makeshift huts and white tents issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is incredibly difficult because the camps are so big and spread out. Some of the most critical patients are pregnant women and newborns, who are the most susceptible to disease.

One woman named Maloon Adan Mohammed gave birth a month ago to a son she named Hassan. Mohammed delivered her baby by herself in a tiny tent without any medical attention because there weren't enough ambulances in the area.

While out in search for another woman who was rumored to be in labor, Abdullahi Ali came upon more emergencies. By chance, he found a different woman, nine months pregnant and in pain. She will be one of the lucky ones who will be picked up by his ambulance, and given medical care with a warm bed and a full meal.

For other expectant mothers, there is little to do but wait for the sound of Abdullahi Ali's horn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalian Drought and Famine Force Families to Make Dangerous Journeys

A Somali woman holds her severely malnourished baby inside a tent serving as a medical clinic which was established by the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in Mogadishu, on July 16, 2011. STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- The drought and famine in Somalia continue to leave families displaced and in desperate search for food and water. Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing the crisis, seeking refuge at camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

For Abdullah Jareh and his wife, the search for life turned deadly. They left Somalia 25 days ago on foot with their mother and four children for Dadaab complex in eastern Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world.

Somalis are walking as far as 50 miles to reach camps like Dadaab, a trek that could last weeks through the desolate terrain. It took Jareh and his family 25 grueling days under the harsh heat, winds and formidable terrain with little to eat or drink.

On their way, Jareh's wife died from gajoo -- a local word for hunger. Throughout the demanding trek, the mother gave up her small portions of food to her four children. But despite the mother's deadly sacrifice, the doctor at the Dadaab refugee camp rushed the youngest son Aden to a makeshift hospital for malnourishment.

Abdullah Jareh says he cannot bear to tell his children they will not see their mother again. They are too young, he says, to understand how her life was taken so quickly, so soon.

Stories of heartbreak and pain are not unique to Abdullah Jareh and his family, who are among tens of thousands of victims of the drought and famine in Somalia. Almost 400,000 Somalis now call the Dadaab complex home, and more than 1,300 arrive every day. While the conditions at the refugee camps are difficult as well, many refugees say they are happier in the camps because at least they can find some food and rations to get by.

The crisis has been brought on by a deadly combination of severe drought, with no rain in the region for two years, a huge spike in food prices and a brutal civil war in Somalia, where it is too dangerous for aid workers to operate.

And each day, the situation is spiraling downward. Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), stressed, "The drought, compounded by prevailing violence in southern and central parts of the country, is turning one of the world's worst humanitarian crises into a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions," Fleming said.

''Unless we can get humanitarian aid into this part of the world, unless we can scale up our operations to meet the growing need, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe and that's what we've got to stop," said Andrew Wander of Save the Children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First U.N. Airlift Relief Arrives in Kenya for Somali Refugees

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- The first United Nations emergency airlift flight arrived in the Kenyan capital Sunday to assist the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the drought and famine afflicting their homeland.

"The giant cargo jet chartered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that landed in Nairobi brought with it 100 tons of tents that are destined for the Dadaab refugee camp complex near the Kenya-Somalia border," the United Nations said in a statement.

Sunday's flight is the first of a series of five scheduled to arrive in Nairobi this week.  Another airlift is scheduled to arrive in Ethopia next week with supplies and up to 20,000 tents, according to the news release.

U.N. agencies requested $1.6 billion to fund relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, which is facing what is being called one of the largest humanitarian crises in 50 years, but have only received half that amount.

ABC News witnessed firsthand the desperate need of the 430,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia.

At the Dadaab camp, a child lies lifeless in his mother's lap, barely able to move.  She clutches him, holding him close.  Another feeds her baby with milk through an IV strapped to his face -- her son is too weak to drink from a bottle.  This is what acute malnutrition looks like.  After travelling for weeks with no food or water, it is the children who suffer the most because they are so young and susceptible to diseases.

The UNHCR estimates that 40 percent of Somali children are now malnourished.

With thousands arriving at this refugee complex every day, the wards are filling up. Even the hospitals have set up camps to cope with the influx of sick children with tents in their courtyards.

One doctor told ABC News that with so many cases of malnutrition, the "program is overstretched."

"Resources are stretched," Dr. Malia Kader of the International Rescue Committee said.  "There's a lot of strain on the system.  We are trying to cope.  The numbers are unprecedented."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalia Drought 'One of the Largest Humanitarian Crises in Decades'

George Doyle/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU) -- Tens of thousands of people are fleeing drought and famine in Somalia in search of food and water in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The crisis has been brought on by a deadly combination of severe drought, with no rain in the region for two years, a huge spike in food prices and a brutal civil war. The region is so violent it has become too dangerous for aid workers.

Somalians are walking as far as 50 miles to reach the Dadaab complex in eastern Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world. The trek can take weeks through punishing terrain, which is desolate except for the carcasses that litter the land.

Tamima Mohammed, who has travelled for 35 days with her seven children to get to Dadaab, is among the refugees. Mohammed lies listless, covered in chicken pox, with no help in sight. She is still waiting to see a doctor. Her children are visibly malnourished, but Mohammed's sack of grains is empty. She said she'll have to beg her neighbors for something to eat.

Even after enduring these difficult circumstances, leaving behind everything they own and arriving with only the clothes on their backs, many refugees say they are happier in the camps because at least they can find some food and rations to get by.

Almost 400,000 Somalis now call the Dadaab complex home, and more than 1,300 arrive every day.

''The people that are arriving are absolutely desperate. They haven't eaten for weeks, they've been travelling for a long, long time in very difficult situations,'' said Andrew Wander of Save the Children.

''Unless we can get humanitarian aid into this part of the world, unless we can scale up our operations to meet the growing need, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe and that's what we've got to stop," Wander said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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