Drought Brings Famine and Disease to Horn of Africa

Aug 11, 2011 | Amy L. Sonricker Hansen | Outbreak News

As the Horn of Africa – including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti - faces its worst drought in over 50 years, thousands of Somali refugees seek shelter in the capital city of Mogadishu and in refugee camps in northeastern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia. The Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya have swelled to a population of over 400,000, as Somalis walk for 15 to 20 days prior to arrival in search of food and water. The Dolo Ado camp in Ethiopia continues to see an average of 200-300 Somalis arrive each day.  In just the past 2 months, facing imminent starvation and death, an estimated 220,000 have fled their drought-stricken farms.

The situation in the Horn of Africa continues to worsen with confirmed cases of cholera and dengue in Somalia (including Mogadishu) and measles outbreaks in refugee camps (with the hardest hit being the Dolo Ado camp in Ethiopia). The United Nations (UN) has warned that the situation could become “unbearable,” as the famine is expected to spread throughout southern Somalia in the next 4-6 weeks.  

In such an unstable region of the world, delivering aid is challenging, however international organizations are responding. For the first time in five years the UN airlifted emergency aid into Mogadishu, and an additional 800 metric tons of food is on its way to East Africa. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a vaccination campaign along the Kenya-Somalia border to protect over 200,000 malnourished children from diseases such as measles and polio.   

Visit the World Food Program’s Website at www.wfp.org to learn more about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa or to make a donation.

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