By Anja Baron
NEW YORK, USA, 6 October 2011 – Goodwill Ambassadors Yuna Kim, Serena Williams, Ishmael Beah and Angelique Kidjo are making an appeal for continued support in the Horn of Africa, utilizing social media to distribute a new series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) which call on their fans to engage in the ongoing effort to end this devastating crisis.
Chief of UNICEF Celebrity Relations and Partnerships, Ms. Marissa Buckanoff, expressed her great enthusiam for the project, praising their support and highlighting the critical nature of the continuing situation. “The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors have been extremely supportive by sending this passionate plea to their fans to provide urgent support to some 13 million people in need of food in the drought inflicted Horn of Africa through PSAs and their social media platforms,” she said.
Even with the current initiatives underway assisting the beleaguered people of the region, it is all too clear that more needs to be done. With an estimated 750,000 Somalis currently facing starvation, tens of thousands already dead, and a mortality rate among children under five averaging 15.43 deaths per 10,000 individuals, as the Goodwill Ambassadors stress in their UNICEF-produced PSAs, “An entire generation will be lost if we don’t so something –now.”
Nearly 600,000 refugees have fled to Kenya since the crisis began, over 400,000 of whom have taken up temporary shelter in Dadaab – the region’s the largest refugee camp. As a response to the ongoing crisis, UNICEF continues to scale up its operations. Since July alone, over 62,000 severely and moderately malnourished children in Somalia have been receiving life-saving support. Additionally, since last month’s reopening of schools, UNICEF has helped facilitate the enrolment of 321,434 students in 1,379 schools throughout the entire central south zone.
A sustainable approach
Despite these efforts, an estimated 4 million people in Somalia are still in dire need of aid. UN officials fear that food scarcity in the south may get worse as local militants have blocked the World Food Programme from delivering aid, and with no major harvests expected for the rest of the year, the crisis is sure to get worse.
This week in Nairobi, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held a seminar on ending the crisis and averting similar catastrophes in the future. Bringing together 15 humanitarian aid practitioners and academics, along with an audience composed mainly of aid workers from the region, participants expressed their views. Though many held differing ideas on how to handle the desperate situation, they all agreed that a sustainable approach to the crisis must incorporate long-term development needs.
Seeking additional support
While average rains in drought-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa are expected for the upcoming short rain season, potential enhanced rainfall may in fact increase concerns over floods in vulnerable areas particularly prone to flooding. This in turn raises grave concerns over water-borne diseases such as cholera and acute watery diarrhea. The past week has seen the highest number of cases since the onset of the outbreak in August. In response, UNICEF is supporting the regional authorities with additional medical staff, mobile health teams and drug supply.
For the remainder of the year, UNICEF is looking for an additional 61 million dollars to support the response in Somalia alone. And despite a recent pledge of an additional $218 million for new humanitarian aid a lot work more remains to be done.
Watch UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, make an appeal for continued support in the Horn of Africa: