Author: Deborah Phelan

Our Earth: Famine in East Africa – “For the first time in my career …. I cried”

An Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) image taken on the NOAA-18 POES satellite provides a stark portrayal of the East African drought, with large swatches of brown indicating poor growth stretching across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and into parts of The Sudan. The imaging system is used to record the amount of light plants absorb during photosynthesis across a broad region. Transporting water across the dessert. Kenya. Photo: Jakob Dall – Danish Red Cross The poor harvest and lack of pasture in July compounds existing food security problems. The previous crop,harvested early in the year, was also poor. In Somalia, the harvest was less than 20 percent of the average harvest, and people began to run short on food in April. Another bad harvest reduces food availability even more, which means that food prices will likely rise more in the coming months. Source: Irish Weather Online Newly arrived refugees from Somalia wait to be registered at Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in Dadaab, north-eastern Kenya, July 2011. Photo by CARE Australia According to FEWS Net (Famine Early Warning System) reports, the food security crisis in the region rivals the situation which occurred in 1990-91. The organization announced today plans to release food security reports every ten days, in conjunction with FSNAU (The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit)to enable the rapid...

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Our Earth: Somalia – This is the Children’s Famine

As the UN officially declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia, the WFP yesterday announced plans to begin airlifting highly nutritious foods for malnourished children in Mogadishu “within days.” Somalia suffers from worst drought in century: Women rush to a feeding centre after the soldiers of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) cannot contain the crowd in Badbado, a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IPDs). Photograph: UN Photo / Stuart Price.Photo by Africa Renewal Currently, twenty-five percent of Somalia’s population has been displaced by the worst drought in Horn of Africa countries in over 60 years. Over the past two months, more than 78,000 Somalis have traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya seeking food, water, and medical assistance. The decision by the Al-Shabaab to allow limited international humanitarian aide inside Somalia highlights the severity of the situation in the country which is most severely impacted by the East African drought. According to BBC, Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage denies famine exists in Bakool and Lower Shabelle, the two UN identified districts, and although the terrorist group has lifted some restrictions on international assistance, 3.7 million Somalis are in dire need of life saving assistance. The WFP, one of many organizations operating under strict restrictions in the region, last night  issued an urgent appeal for increased access. “We are appealing to all parties who have an interest in this situation to allow...

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Our Earth: East Africa Famine: II

Khadra Suleiman, at Ali Hussein IDP camp, Somaliland. Ali Hussein camp is one of several large camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) on the edge of Burao town. Some people have come from Mogadishu and South Central Somalia to escape the conflict, others have come because of drought.. Mother-of-five Khadra Suleiman is struggling to cope with the rising cost of living in the camp – particularly the cost of food: .(continue reading Oxfam report 7/13/2011) The 30-mile-long Dadaab Refugee Camp is ground zero in the relief effort for victims of the Horn of Africa famine, now widely recognized as the “worst humanitarian disaster in the World.” With a current population of over 400,000, the three Dadaab camps – Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley – are currently the third largest population center in Kenya, after Nairobi and Mombasa. The lives of 11 million people are threatened by this crisis, whose epicenter lies in the nomadic shared borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Somalia, already devastated by ongoing violence and displacements from two decades of civil war, is the worst impacted country, with close to 2000 Somalis arriving daily in Southeast Ethiopia and 1400 seeking assistance in Kenya, according to The Tehran Times. “Looking around, we mainly see women and children,” reported UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy, who has just visited Dadaab. “They are again the...

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Our Earth: Famine Threatens 11 Million in Horn of Africa

UNHCR programme provides young Somali males with a toolkit full of skills Link In what is being referred to as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today,” 11 million people residing in the Horn of Africa totter on the edge of famine as two years of drought, combined with escalating global food prices combine to create “a perfect storm.” Meanwhile, Oxfam reports that the Kenyan government is barring many of the thousands of refugees arriving daily from entering what is now the largest refugee center in the world because of security fears. New water tanks, lavatory blocks and health care facilities stand ready at the camp as tens of thousands are being forced to find nearby shelter in what Oxfam today called “shocking conditions.” The Dadaab refugee camp, whose three centres were designed to handle 90,000 Somalian war and weather refugees, is already overwhelmed with and now houses 380,000 residents, according to government officials. Oxfam’s Kenyan director, Joost van de Lest, urged the country to open the camp immediately. “It is tragic that vulnerable families are trapped in limbo, forced to endure appalling conditions while there are fully functioning services right next door,” he told the Telegraph earlier today. “Women and children have walked for weeks through the desert, braving hunger and attacks by armed robbers and wild animals, to get to the camps in Kenya. “They arrive...

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Our Earth: Egypt’s Next Crisis – Climate Change and Justice

While the world watches in awe as the people of Egypt in all their stereoscopic splendor relentlessly reinvent the concept of Revolution, perhaps our immersion in this struggle will sensitize and energize us finally to stare down and take up arms against the reality of climate change. For as tens of thousands of us resonate with the new knowledge that “We are all Egypt,” this reawakening of our core interconnectedness must be the catalyst to catapult us to action and awareness of the impact our lifestyles are having on the most vulnerable countries in the world. You see, Egypt, once it has completed this stage in its struggle for independence and self governance, will need our assistance and care and unyielding commitment as it faces its next seemingly insurmountable hurdle: its extreme vulnerability to the ravages of climate change. For while today the streets alongside the Mediterranean city of Alexandria throb with the life and passion of protesters – children, students, mothers and fathers, friends – and soldiers and looters and frustrated shopkeepers, the horrific truth is that this ancient city, within a few short years, will be underwater if the sea rises by just one meter! Unless we act. Now. As one. From 220 miles above Earth, one of the Expedition 25 crew members on the International Space Station took this night time photo featuring the bright lights...

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