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Israeli aid group off to Africa

ByGIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
September 2, 2011 02:59

Humanitarian group sends delegation to aid thousands in Kenya and Somalia after drought.

AN ISRAELI aid worker speaks to a Somalian woman i

israid kenya 311. (photo credit:Mickey Alon)

An Israeli humanitarian group has sent a delegation to the border of Kenya and Somalia to aid tens of thousands of locals displaced by the worst drought to have hit the Horn of Africa in over 60 years.

IsraAID, in partnership with Operation Blessing International, said on Thursday it had dispatched four Israeli aid workers to a town near the border between the two countries earlier in the week.



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“Words cannot describe the situation here. I have never seen anything like it,” said Dana Manor, an experienced aid worker who was in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. “We visited the camps and the overwhelming refugee influx is putting a stress on the existing infrastructure, people are constantly requesting food, tents [shelters], access to the schools, and water.”

Mickey Alon, a professional relief worker and IsraAID team member who just returned from another IsraAID mission in South Sudan, said he was overwhelmed.

“We met a girl that had been raped three months ago. She is extremely traumatized, but she cannot go to school because the other kids beat her for getting raped.

She is socially bound and does not go out of her tent.”

The team is looking into the possibility of building a school for children at the refugee camp, the majority of which receive little to no formal education. IsraAID Director Shachar Zehavi said safety measures were in place to protect the Israeli team from harm’s way.

The head of the Israeli humanitarian group, which is supported by the UJA Federations of Greater Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg, and UIA Canada, said he wasn’t sure how long the delegation would stay in the drought-stricken area.

“Every day is different and developing so we don’t know but our goal is to stay there on a long term basis,” he said.
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