UNHCR seeks US$145 million in fresh appeal for Horn of Africa emergency

News Stories, 28 July 2011

© UNHCR/R.Gangale
A Somali mother and child finally find safety after fleeing from their home area earlier this year.

GENEVA, July 28 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Thursday appealed for an extra US$8.6 million to expand its humanitarian assistance in the East and Horn of Africa. This comes as severe famine and continuing violence aggravate the mass displacement of people both inside Somalia and across its borders.

UNHCR's revised requirements to respond to the emergency inside Somalia and the refugee crisis it has spawned in Ethiopia and Kenya now stand at US$144.9 million up from the original appeal of US$136.3 million issued in early July.

In Somalia, the additional funds will enable UNHCR to scale up its assistance and deliver relief supplies such as plastic sheeting, kitchen utensils, blankets, jerry cans and high-energy biscuits to some 180,000 people, most of them displaced by a combination of famine, drought and conflict.

The agency will also strengthen its tracking of population movements through a network of nearly 80 partners on the ground, and increase its presence in areas of displacement, including Mogadishu, central Somalia and areas bordering Kenya and Ethiopia.

"The people of Somalia both those facing risk, vulnerability or displaced inside the country and the thousands who are outside as refugees have never needed protection and humanitarian assistance with the urgency that we have today," said George Okoth-Obbo, director of UNHCR's Africa Bureau.

He added, "It is imperative that UNHCR is enabled to enhance its humanitarian activities to provide protection and other life-saving assistance to those being placed at risk. If we can thereby also contribute to people not being forced to have to seek safety elsewhere internally or in other countries, that can only be a good thing."

To date, UNHCR has received US$59 million in donor contributions and pledges for this emergency operation. With today's revised appeal, the emergency operation faces a shortfall of nearly $86 million, which it needs before the end of the year.

So far this year, UNHCR has distributed emergency assistance packages to more than 100,000 people in south-central Somalia, where the drought is most severe. More supplies are currently being distributed to an additional 114,000 drought-affected people.

"All in all, UNHCR aims to reach 400,000 people in dire need of assistance inside Somalia by the end of August," said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR's representative for Somalia. "This will alleviate the suffering of some of the most vulnerable people, who do not have the means to travel to get assistance."

Since January, a combination of drought and insecurity in Somalia has driven more than 96,000 Somalis into Kenya, over 74,000 into Ethiopia and some 2,500 into Djibouti countries that are themselves suffering from the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years.

The influx has overwhelmed the already overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya. This week, UNHCR started moving hundreds of the recent arrivals from Dadaab's outskirts to a new site called Ifo extension, where basic shelter, water, sanitation and health services are being provided.

While UNHCR's airlifts have brought thousands of tents to Dadaab, they are not enough to meet the needs of the refugee population, which is growing by 1,300 people a day. Water supply is also of concern. Some boreholes are being pumped 18 hours a day and Dadaab's water resources may soon reach peak capacity.

In Ethiopia's Dollo Ado area, new arrivals from Somalia number several hundred a day. Kobe camp, which was opened in June, is now full with some 25,000 refugees. Malnutrition remains a challenge. UNHCR and its partners have started providing therapeutic feeding for all children aged under five years, who receive servings of nutrient-packed porridge twice a day.

The agency is also providing two hot meals a day to more than 13,000 Somali refugees at the transit centre. Kobe camp is served by six clinics, some of them open 24 hours a day. Parents are told that they can get help for their children at any time. A new camp in Dollo Ado is expected to be ready in one week to accommodate the new arrivals.

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Crisis in Horn of Africa

UNHCR country pages

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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