Member agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee are preparing to scale up the work they are already doing in Somalia, as thousands continue to flee to Kenya and Ethiopia to escape drought and conflict.
Nine of the 14 agencies that make up the DEC are working in Somalia directly or through partners. The existing humanitarian crisis in the country caused by the conflict has been compounded by the severe drought affecting the region.s
Member agencies and their partners operate under strict rules of humanitarian impartiality to ensure continued safe access to as many people in need of help as possible.
The United Nations has called for aid agencies to increase their work in Somalia to ensure help gets to those who need it. This followed last week's announcement by one party to the conflict that it was lifting a ban on foreign agencies working in the areas it controls. DEC agencies and their partners are therefore looking at opportunities to increase their work in Somalia within the constraints of the security situation and restrictions imposed by some donor governments.
Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:
"DEC agencies are used to working in conflict zones, including in areas controlled by armed groups rather than governments. Somalia is one of the hardest places in the world to deliver aid, but we are doing all we can to get help to those in need, while ensuring the safety of our staff and partners.
"Our members are determined to continue helping people in Somalia and to expand their activities. They will continue to go to all great lengths to ensure aid reaches those in need."
This year's drought follows four years of poor rains which have hit all communities hard. Farmers and their families have seen the crops they rely on fail. Pastoralists whose families rely on animals have had to watch those animals die. People living in the towns and cities have seen food prices soar. Child malnutrition rates in many areas are more than twice the 15% emergency threshold and many children have already died of hunger related causes.
Work currently being carried out in Somalia by DEC member agencies and their partners includes distributing food, treating malnourished children, constructing and re-habilitating health centres, providing health screenings for pregnant women and drilling and maintaining borehores.
DEC member agencies will liaise with local organisations in order to reach civilian populations in humanitarian need but remain impartial at all times.
To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, visit http://www.dec.org.uk or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.
Anyone wanting to stay up to date with developments in East Africa, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts can follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of 'Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC' on Facebook.
Notes to editors:
- To make a postal donation make cheques payable to 'DEC' and mail to 'PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA'.
- Donations can be made at any high street bank, or at a Post Office by quoting Freepay 1562.
- To donate £5 by text send the word CRISIS to 70000. The full £5 will go to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal.
- The DEC consists of: Action Aid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision.
- DEC agencies already working directly or through partners in Somalia include: British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK (Somaliland and Puntland), Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision.
Longer term work
In addition to our immediate response in the face of this current food crisis CARE International emphasises the need to tackle the long-term, underlying causes of poverty. We have been present in the region for over 25 years and are helping families to break the cycle of hunger and to adapt to the changing climate and recurring droughts.
Our ongoing work in the region includes:
- Maintenance, protection and development of water points and wells.
- Working with women in Mandera, Kenya to revive traditional food preservation techniques.
- Vaccination of animals to prevent diseases breaking out as they congregate at remaining water points.
- Helping families have more consistent sources of income by supporting them in diversifying their work.