Christian Science Monitor: UN declares famine in Somalia: How to help

This article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor Publication on July 20, 2011. 

By Ariel Zirulnick, Staff writer 

The United Nations has officially declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia and warned that without action, famine-level conditions could soon spread to the rest of the south. More than 100,000 Somalians have fled to refugee camps in Kenya to escape the famine, brought on by the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in half a century.

According to Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, about half of its population (3.7 million people) is in crisis and about 10 million people in the Horn of Africa region are at risk for famine. Somalia is worst-off because of perpetual government instability and the threat of Islamist militant group Al Shabab, which have made delivery of aid challenging, CNNreports.

Mr. Bowden appealed for more aid on Wednesday, saying that the UN would need $300 million in the next two months to provide an adequate intervention.

The following is a handful of organizations seeking donations to funnel to the Horn's crisis:

  • The United Nations: There are several UN agencies working together to address the regional crisis. UNHCR, the refugee agency, has a page on its website detailing what aid specific amounts of money will buy for its effort in Somalia. UNICEF, the UN children's agency, is also seeking assistance (US citizens, donate here).
  • The World Food Programme has a full page detailing its efforts in the region and is collecting donations.
  • Oxfam is accepting donations for its efforts to alleviate the drought in the region, which was the key cause of the famine. It is providing both emergency water supplies and leading efforts to build more sustainable water resources and practices.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross has been in Somalia, working alongside the Somali Red Crescent Society, since the 1970s. The two announced last week that they will be opening ten new feeding centers, expanding services in existing feeding centers, and launching a program specifically geared toward malnourished children under five and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You can find out more, including how to donate, here.
  • The International Rescue Committee has operations in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia that run the gamut from supplying water to providing medical screening in the refugee camps. Find out more here and donate here.
  • Mercy Corps has emergency operations in northeastern Kenya, and teams in Ethiopia and Somalia as well providing food, water, and other assistance. You can learn more here and donate here.
  • World Vision has launched emergency relief programs in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. For more information on their services, which run the gamut from nutrition assistance to livestock support, go here.