Locals help out poverty-striken Somalia

The Canadian Red Cross plays a heavy part in many relief efforts and currently has an active role in Somalia where drought and famine has affected 12.5 million people.

Locally, residents have been stepping up to help out as well.

“The more donations we can get the more we can prevent further deterioration of the situation,” said Leila Daoud, spokesperson for the Red Cross.

The Somali Red Crescent is also helping severely malnourished children in remote rural areas.

Almost 11% of children are suffering from malnutrition. Since March, malnutrition rates have doubled in Somalia.

“Red Deer is a part of all of the branches who are working to fundraise for this crisis.”

While there are other areas like Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti and Uganda that need food because of a severe drought in the Horn of Africa, the situation in Somalia is more acute because of the fighting between militia groups.

“The Red Cross is monitoring the situation daily and we have disaster management experts in the field and reporting back,” said Daoud.

The UN estimates that tens of thousands of Somalis have died because of famine.

For the last 20 years, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) has held a presence in Somalia. The aid that has been provided includes helping farmers be more sustainable and improve their crops by giving them seeds, training and resources like ploughs and fertilizers.

The ICRC has also supported a network of therapeutic feeding centres operated by the Somali Red Crescent. In recent months the number of children admitted has nearly doubled.

Since last October almost 1 million people have benefitted from a water trucking operation launched by the ICRC that provides clean drinking water.

“The money raised is used to support the Red Cross and the experts in the field determine where the money is most needed and how it should be allocated.”

Daoud explained that 20% of donations are being put towards early recovery initiatives.

“You want to help in the immediate future but not create a dependency.”

Current efforts in Red Deer to help Somalia include the Step up for Somalia fundraiser organized by the Central Alberta Diversity Association and the Global Enrichment Foundation (GEF).

Step up for Somalia will be an event for people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. The Government of Canada will match all donations made for Somali relief efforts through the GEF until Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, former Central Alberta resident Amanda Lindhout, who was held captive in Somalia for 15 months, has returned to the country to help with the crisis.

Her organization, The Global Enrichment Foundation is working with local organizations in Kenya and Somalia to bring food aid into Dhoobley Somalia, one of the areas hardest hit from the famine.

The first shipment of food left for Kenya on July 30. After a few delays, the first trucks made it across the border to Somalia on Aug. 4 and delivered enough food to feed 14,000 people for two weeks. A second food convoy is being scheduled for late August.

So far, more than $73,000 has been raised.

For more information or to donate visit www.redcross.ca. To donate $5 text the word ‘Africa’ to 30333.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com

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