Crisis in the Horn of Africa
July 20, 2011—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is holding conversations with partner organizations working in the Horn of Africa and planning a regional response to the growing hunger crisis provoked by severe drought in the region.
Years of drought in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti have escalated in recent weeks, causing widespread hunger and, in two regions of southern Somalia, famine.
According to the United Nations, today’s drought is the worst the region has seen in half a century and has left an estimated 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. It has provoked acute malnutrition and death, especially among children and other vulnerable populations.
“UMCOR is very concerned about the escalation of the crisis in the Horn of Africa and is talking with ACT Alliance, Church World Service, GlobalMedic, and Muslim Aid to devise a regional response to it,” reported Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR executive for International Disaster Response.
Somalia, where relief efforts have been hampered by ongoing violence and war, has seen tens of thousands of its weakened citizens flee to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. The Somali population in three refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, has increased by more than 30 percent in recent weeks, to 400,000 people.
Nearly half the Somali population—3.7 million people—is estimated to be in crisis, the UN said; most—2.8 million—can be found in the war-torn southern part of the country, where the violence has impeded the work of food agencies for more than a year.
If the effects of the drought are not checked, famine could spread to the rest of southern Somalia within two months, the UN underscored.
“UMCOR is working with our partners to act as quickly and as comprehensively as possible,” Crutchfield said. “While we do, we ask for your continued prayers and support for those affected by this crisis.”