East Africa’s humanitarian crisis deteriorates rapidly as aid effort fails to keep pace
· People affected set to rise by 25 percent to 15m
· More than 500,000 at risk of starvation
· Famine likely to spread in Somalia
· Oxfam looks to reach 3m people but faces a $55m shortfall
International agency Oxfam says governments and donors must act with
greater urgency in the face of a deteriorating crisis and rising needs
in East Africa. Donors must move beyond promises and immediately turn
money pledged into action on the ground, as more than half a million
people are at risk of starvation, the agency said.
The agency said the international community is failing to keep pace
with a crisis that is spiraling out of control.
The United Nations estimates that the total number of people in need
could rise up by 25 per cent and surpass 15 million soon if urgent
action on all fronts is not taken, such as providing emergency food,
water and shelter. Despite generous pledges of money from some rich
governments and donors their generosity is failing to keep pace with
the level of need.
As the crisis deteriorates, the amount of money needed goes up. Last
week, the UN increased its appeals for Somalia and Kenya by $600m,
bringing the funding shortfall to $1.47 billion. Although more money
is in the pipeline, according to UN figures, as much as $280 million
of the more than $700m pledged in the past few weeks has not yet been
committed to a particular activity. The priority now will be to
convert what has been a generous response by donors so far into
activities to save people’s lives.
“East Africa’s humanitarian crisis is at the tipping point. Hundreds
of thousands will face starvation unless donors step forward, maintain
the generosity we have seen in recent weeks and help prevent a
catastrophe,” said Elise Ford, spokesperson of Oxfam.
“Aid agencies on the ground are ready and we’ve deployed our best
people. Where access is possible, aid agencies like Oxfam have
increased their programmes to reach people and save as many lives as
we can. The question is whether donors are able to act as urgently and
convert money into life-saving action,” said Ford.
Oxfam aims to scale up its work to reach 3 million people across
Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. To do so it needs $91m,
and has so far raised $36m, leaving a gap of $55m.
According to new figures by the United Nations 564,000 people are at
risk of death without urgent intervention in the region. Some 183,000
refugees have left war-torn Somalia towards Ethiopia or Kenya since
the beginning of year, according to the UN.
Oxfam warned that the next 3-4 months are set to worsen in Ethiopia,
Kenya and parts of southern Somalia and the situation will remain
classified as an “emergency” until the end of the year. The whole
South of Somalia is likely to be declared a famine due to a
combination of worsening pastoral conditions, further food price
increases and poor harvest.
In Somalia, Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to more than 230,000 people on the outskirts of Mogadishu. The agency is also
assisting over 60,000 who have fled drought zones of Southern Somalia
and have arrived in the capital. Throughout Somalia, the agency is
reaching over 500,000 people who benefit from various programs which
include direct cash relief for displaced families, water and
sanitation services, and cash for work projects amongst others.