UNHCR enters online fund-raising challenge for US$50,000 prize

News Stories, 8 October 2009

© UNHCR/E.Hockstein
Helping Somalis: Newly arrived refugees wait to register in Dadaab, Kenya. The flow of arrivals shows no signs of slowing.

GENEVA, October 8 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency, as part of its growing use of social media, has entered a special fund-raising challenge on a Facebook platform that could net US$50,000 to help forcibly displaced Somalis.

Charities and humanitarian organizations taking part in "America's Giving Challenge," which was launched Wednesday on Facebook Causes, have 30 days to gain the most individual donors.

"We will encourage our supporters on social media to help us raise money for the tens of thousands who have been forced from their homes in Somalia by donating and asking friends, family and colleagues to join in," said Suzanne Tremblay, the UNHCR fund-raising officer who specializes in appeals.

Somalia has been plagued by violence for almost two decades. Hundreds of thousands have fled overseas or sought refuge in other parts of their country. Each year, tens of thousands risk their lives by crossing the Gulf of Aden on smugglers' boats to reach Yemen.

Under America's Giving Challenge, the organization that inspires the most people to donate to their cause over the 30 days, regardless of the dollar amount, will receive the top prize of US$50,000. A second prize is worth US$25,000, while causes placing third to seventh will each get US$10,000. The challenge, sponsored by The Case Foundation and Parade magazine, will also be giving out daily prizes.

UNHCR is asking donors to help displaced Somalis by contributing through its Gimme Shelter Cause on Facebook. This is linked to the Gimme Shelter campaign launched almost a year ago with the help of American actor Ben Affleck and The Rolling Stones to raise funds and awareness about the forcibly displaced around the world.

The Gimme Shelter Cause was launched on Facebook earlier this year and has raised almost $60,000 from 135,000 members in the past six months. UNHCR invites all Facebook members to contribute to the Gimme Shelter Cause and help the refugee agency be among the top non-profit Causes during October.

Join the Cause: www.causes.com/refugee

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Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

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