Media Contact:Laura Blank
Nairobi, Kenya (February 8, 2012) — While the decision by the United Nations (UN) to declare an end to the famine in parts of Somalia is good news, World Vision’s Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs (HEA) for East Africa says the humanitarian crisis caused by the drought and ongoing military conflict in the region is far from over.
“World Vision is pleased to note that some harvests and an increase in international aid have led to an improvement in conditions in Somalia,” says Stuart Katwikirize, HEA Director for World Vision (East Africa). “But there are still approximately two million people facing serious food shortages in the country, and they will continue to need support for the foreseeable future.”
The UN announced Friday that it has lifted the famine designation that had applied to six regions of Somalia and was first implemented in July 2011. Heavy rains that began last fall led to one of the best harvests in more than 17 years and a surge in international aid increased the availability of food, helping to lower prices. However, the UN has warned that these gains are “fragile” and that famine conditions could return if the traditional August rains are less than expected and if political turmoil in Somalia continues to disrupt the ability of aid organizations to reach vulnerable people and deliver aid.
“World Vision is providing humanitarian relief in the Somali regions of Puntland, Somaliland, and Dollow, and we continue to see refugees arriving daily from southern Somalia to Ethiopia," Katwikirize says. “Although famine conditions have eased, we will continue to provide day-to-day support, and also implement our long-term health and development programs to help improve the capacity of local communities to deal with future droughts and offer better lives for their children.”
In order for World Vision and other humanitarian organizations to continue this life-saving work in Somalia, it is critical that international and national government leaders as well as the international community as a whole remain committed to the work and the funding needed to provide emergency relief.
World Vision’s emergency affairs director, Francois Batalingaya, agrees and adds: “There are no quick fixes for a crisis like the one that Somalia has endured over the past year. The international community must continue to provide aid over the longer term to help children and their families in areas where access to food and medical care remains uncertain.”
World Vision’s response to the drought in the Horn of Africa began in February 2011. Since that time, more than two million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania have benefited from World Vision’s humanitarian aid that has included food and water, health care and nutrition, shelter, support to education in emergencies, humanitarian protection and help for livestock. At the same time, World Vision has continued to implement its long-term development programs in all four countries, aimed at improving the resilience of local people by providing access to more drought resistant crops, better livestock care and clean, safe water.
About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor — regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews