Addis Ababa, 25 July 2011 – During a mission in the Horn of Africa from the 22nd to 24th July 2011, the Deputy Chairperson, H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, visited Dadaab, the refugee camp situated in Kenya close to the Somalia border, in order to assess the situation of the humanitarian crisis on the ground. With 400,000 people, Dadaab is the biggest refugee camp in the world and is currently witnessing “unprecedented influx due to the drought in the Horn of Africa”, according to UNHCR which administers the camp.
“It is terrible to see people in such a state of weakness and very sad to hear the stories of mothers forced to abandon children on the way because they could not make it to the camp. I would like to thank the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia for their efforts in providing shelter to the refugees while also taking care of their own populations badly affected by this drought. We now need to step up all efforts to deal with this crisis. Yet, we also need to view sustainable solutions and create the mechanisms that will address root causes of such calamity by creating resiliency systems and political stability,” declared the Deputy Chairperson.
In this respect, the Deputy Chairperson met, amongst others, Mrs. Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Dr. Jacques Diouf, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Mr. Bruno Le Maire, the French minister of Agriculture representing the G20, high level representatives of the Kenyan Government, as well as local and international organizations active on the ground and the private sector. He also visited Wajir, in Kenya, witnessing the effects of the drought on the local pastoralists population and the resiliency systems that are in place as well as the collective efforts put in place by the Kenyan Government and the international organizations to reduce the negative impact on the local populations.
Further to the appeal issued by the Chairperson to Member states, the African Union is organizing a donors’ conference on the 10th August in Addis Ababa, in order to support the collective international efforts to raise adequate funding to address this pressing crisis. A dedicated bank account is in the process of being opened. To date, USD 500,000 have been donated to UNHCR by the AU and the PRC Sub-Committee on the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine.
According to reports by international agencies, 11 million people are currently affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa and are in need of food assistance. The situation is deemed critical in Somalia ,where 60% of the land and over 2.2 million people cannot be reached because of the highly unstable political situation in that country.