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Crisis in Horn of Africa

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A Worsening Humanitarian Situation

Somalia is at the heart of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. Twenty years of conflict and waves of drought have uprooted a quarter of the country's 7.5 million people. As the region faces its most severe drought in 60 years, the Somali exodus is growing fast.

In the first half of 2011 alone, more than 83,000 Somalis fled into Kenya and over 54,000 into Ethiopia. In July, daily arrivals in each country ranged from 1,300 to 1,700. An additional 2,600 Somalis had crossed the north-western border into Djibouti by mid-2011.

The refugees say they fled a combination of violence and drought in Somalia. Many are waiting until the last possible moment to flee, putting up with violence, crop failures and rising food prices until they can no longer survive where they were. Insecurity prevents aid from reaching them, forcing people to leave their sick and elderly behind and flee their homes to get help.

Many walk for weeks to reach aid in neighbouring countries. Some do not survive the harsh journey; the weakest children die along the way as their mothers watch helplessly. Those refugees who make it to Kenya or Ethiopia's camps arrive exhausted, dehydrated and severely malnourished. Child deaths are alarmingly high.

The refugees urgently need medical aid and high-protein, high-energy food. They also need clean water, shelter and basic services in the camps.

The UN refugee agency is seeking US$144,954,431 in funds for emergency relief in the host countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, which are themselves hard hit by the drought. UNHCR has also urged for improved access in Somalia itself so that affected people can receive aid without having to flee their homes.

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Somalia Emergency: Urgent Appeal

Widespread malnutrition among Somali refugees requires immediate action.

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Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

For the first time in five years, UNHCR has been able to airlift vital humanitarian aid to the conflict-ravaged Somalia capital of Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of Somalis, fleeing drought and famine, have descended on the city in recent weeks searching for food, water, medicine and other assistance.

Three UNHCR-chartered aircraft have brought around 100 tonnes of aid to Mogadishu since August 8. The aircraft carried relief items from the agency's emergency stockpile in Dubai. The latest shipment includes high energy protein biscuits, plastic sheeting for shelter, sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans for water and kitchen utensils.

The UN refugee agency usually delivers relief items to Mogadishu by sea and land for security reasons, but - due to the unprecedented rise in the number of uprooted civilians - UNHCR decided to airlift supplies in order to save time. There are now around half-a-million internally displaced people in Mogadishu.

Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

The UN refugee agency has moved 4,700 Somali refugees from the outskirts of Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex into the Ifo Extension site since 25 July 2011. The ongoing relocation movement is transferring 1,500 people a day and the pace will soon increase to 2,500 to 3,000 people per day.

The refugees had arrived in recent weeks and months after fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia. They settled spontaneously on the edge of Ifo camp, one of three existing camps in the Dadaab complex, that has been overwhelmed by the steadily growing influx of refugees.

The new Ifo Extension site will provide tented accommodation to 90,000 refugees in the coming months. Latrines and water reservoirs have been constructed and are already in use by the families that have moved to this site.

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

Somalia: Mogadishu Aid DistributionPlay video

Somalia: Mogadishu Aid Distribution

UNHCR flies in a third cargo of aid to Mogadishu. The assistance is bound for thousands of displaced people in the Al Adala settlement just five minutes from the airport.
Somalia: Fleeing FaminePlay video

Somalia: Fleeing Famine

Tukaay is one of the nearly 1.5 million internally displaced Somalis struggling with drought and conflict.
Kenya: Somalis in DadaabPlay video

Kenya: Somalis in Dadaab

They lived through decades of conflict but drought was the final straw, say Somalis who fled their homes for Kenya's Dadaab camp.
Somalia: Fleeing hungerPlay video

Somalia: Fleeing hunger

Conflict and drought have forced over 135,000 Somalis from their homes so far this year. Some walked for weeks to get help.
Ethiopia: Somali arrivalsPlay video

Ethiopia: Somali arrivals

This parched and remote corner of southeast Ethiopia has received an endless flow of Somali refugees, many of them malnourished and bearing tragic stories.
Kenya : Somali exodus to KenyaPlay video

Kenya : Somali exodus to Kenya

The world's largest refugee complex at Dadaab in north-east Kenya is growing steadily as a fresh wave of Somali civilians flee their country to escape drought or conflict.

Galkayo: Vulnerable in a volatile land

Galkayo, located in Somalia's Puntland region, is home to more than 60,000 displaced people who fled war-torn south-central Somalia and harsh drought conditions in many parts of the country.

The displaced people are scattered around 21 makeshift settlements in Galkayo. Multiple families often share small, rudimentary shelters made of cardboard and plastic sheets. Despite overcrowding and extreme poverty, it is not uncommon for families to take in abandoned children and elderly people who are on their own.

Squalid conditions and lack of proper health care mean that simple ailments can easily develop into complications. There is little employment in Galkayo and most displaced people find informal day labour, such as collecting garbage or washing clothes for the locals.

UNHCR provides basic assistance to Galkayo's displaced people through vocational training and income generation programs meant to improve their livelihoods. The refugee agency also provides temporary shelter and emergency relief items for vulnerable families.

Galkayo: Vulnerable in a volatile land

Bossaso: Life on the edge

The port of Bossasso, located in Somalia's northern Puntland region, is the main departure point for the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants who risk their lives in crossing the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen.

In addition to those using Bossaso as a transit point, some 50,000 Somalis have sought refuge there after fleeing from their homes to escape conflict. Life is difficult for these internally displaced people, who live in 26 settlements, mostly on private lots around the city. Their crude homes are made from scraps of cardboard and plastic. The combination of overcrowding in the settlements and the use of very flammable building materials means that fires break out on a regular basis, seriously injuring people and destroying their shelters and belongings. Displaced families are also often at risk of being forcibly evicted by the private landlords.

UNHCR and its implementing partners try and improve the lives of these communities through small-scale projects, including income-generation activities and awareness programmes on issues such as sexual and gender-based violence.

Bossaso: Life on the edge