Nairobi, KENYA (July 19, 2012) — A year on from famine in Somalia, the food situation has improved, but for millions of Somali children, survival is still a daily struggle. Around one million people are living outside of their country’s borders and another 1.36 million are internally displaced. Many have sought refuge in camps in neighboring countries, taxing an already challenging living situation.
“I've seen first-hand how aid has saved the lives of many Somalis, especially children suffering from malnutrition. However, children are exposed to further risk when camps are over-crowded and under-resourced,” said World Vision Policy Advisor for Conflicts and Disasters Nathaniel Hurd. “Imagine trying to suddenly take care of two to three times as many people in your house, with the same space, budget, food, and even bathroom facilities.”
In Dolo Ado, Ethiopia, near the south central border with Somalia, around 1,000 new refugees have been arriving each week since May. Because of the urgent situation, World Vision says camps need to be able to keep pace with the continued influx and needs of displaced people. Even though they are away from their neighborhoods, many say they have no plan to return home because of the continuing drought and the insecurity plaguing many areas of Somalia.
“All the mothers and children who spoke with me in Ethiopia and Somalia said they fled their homes because they were terrified of armed groups,” said Hurd. “They say although 'Only God knows when there will be peace, we don't think it will be safe to go home for a long time.' Those who raised crops and animals also told me that the drought had killed all their animals and crops."
“Although refugee and IDP camps are not the best solution to the Somalia crisis, we must try to relieve immediate suffering while we find permanent solutions,” said World Vision’s program director in Somalia, Francois Batalingaya. “We are calling for continued support for children and families in camps since insecurity cannot allow them to go back to their homes soon.”
Recognizing that camps are not a long-term solution, World Vision is urging leaders in Somalia to move forward in the push for peace, focusing on a bottom-up, grassroots approach.
“The continued crisis in Somalia is largely due to lack of peace and stability,” said Batalingaya. “The sooner these issues are resolved, the sooner families can return to their homes and build their resilience to ongoing shocks such as food crises. World Vision is committed to working with everyone at various levels to achieve lasting peace.”
Since July 2011 when the most recent crisis in the Horn came to the world’s attention, World Vision has been able to assist more than 1.5 million people in the region through health, nutrition, water and sanitation and food aid programs. World Vision is working in a number of camps across the region to provide food and essential hygiene items, child-friendly spaces and schools so children have a place to feel safe and still be kids.
To prevent the reoccurring problem of drought from turning into the tragedy of famine in the future, World Vision is providing seeds and training, replacing livestock and creating cash-for-work programs to allow people to purchase food in their communities. World Vision is also working to create new wells and water catchment structures and latrines, to ensure access to clean, safe water.
FAST FACTS ON SOMALIA*:
*Statistics from OCHA and UNHCR
Pictures as well as on-the-ground interviews with our staff are available upon request. Please contact Lauren Fisher (+1.206.310.5476).
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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