Islamic Relief is stepping up its emergency relief operations in East Africa where more than 20 million people are on the brink of starvation. Severe drought conditions and lack of rainfall is raising fears of famine, equal to or worse than the 2011 Horn of Africa famine that killed 260,000 people in 2011.
“The international community has a moral obligation to rescue the lives of millions of people across East Africa, who are on the brink of starvation,” says Islamic Relief Worldwide’s (IRW) Head of East Africa, Yusuf Ahmed.
His comments come after UNOCHA and the United Nation’s under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, visited Somalia last week to assess the extent of the crisis.
Islamic Relief field offices in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia are currently conducting needs assessments. Water, food and livestock feed have been identified as urgent needs. Ahmed, who returned recently from a field visit to Ethiopia, said conditions on the ground are particularly harrowing for women and children.
“In Ethiopia, 5.6 million people are directly in need of emergency aid. During the field visit, we came across a mother and her four children who moved away from their pastoral home in search of water and food.”
“After weeks of living on the side of the road, the mother said it was more than 10 hours since she and her young children had any water to drink. You can just imagine their suffering,” he added.
Islamic Relief has a long history of working in the East Africa region. The humanitarian relief organisation first responded to the urgent needs of Sudanese families in 1984, who were caught in the grips of a devastating famine.
Last year we delivered a project in Somalia, which saw the distribution of emergency food supplies, medicine and the provision and restocking of animals which the population rely on heavily for milk and meat.
More recently, we implemented life-saving water trucking initiatives to more than 30,000 people in Ethiopia in response to climatic changes. In Kenya, we implemented a £1 million programme, which increased the resilience of households to drought.
We are pushing for long-term solutions in Somalia to break the repetitive cycle of drought and floods, delivering a $5 million borehole project to provide 36 sustainable water supplies across the region and installing underground tanks to store rainwater that currently runs wasted into the Red Sea.
Ahmed appealed to Islamic Relief donors and supporters to donate towards the East Africa crisis appeal.
“We urgently need humanitarian assistance in the form of emergency relief, cash transfers and medical assistance. Millions of people are in need across the region. Children are going hungry. Women and the elderly are ill and access to no medical assistance. You have a moral obligation to help these people at this very critical stage.”