Jewish groups provide aid for E. African drought crisis

Israeli and Jewish humanitarian aid organizations pitch in as 11.3 million people across East Africa in need of emergency food.

July 24, 2011 19:10
2 minute read.
Drought causingt famine in East Africa

Africa Drought. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A number of Jewish humanitarian groups have initiated aid programs to help address the severe drought and food shortages currently affecting East Africa.

The UN’s World Food Program has declared a famine situation in two regions of Somalia and has stated that there are approximately 11.3 million people across East Africa, including in Kenya and Ethiopia, in need of emergency food aid because of the current drought, the worst in the region for 60 years.

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IsraAid, an umbrella group of Israeli and Jewish humanitarian aid organizations, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that it was coordinating with the Kenyan government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to provide aid supplies to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya, which currently hosts 380,000 Somali refugees who have fled the war-torn country.

The UNHCR has said that more than 1,300 refugees are arriving daily at the camp.

IsraAid spokesman Shachar Zahavai said that the umbrella group, which is working in the region in conjunction with Christian NGO Operation Blessing and with the support of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the UIA Federations Canada, hopes to start getting supplies into the camp some time next week.

World Jewish Relief, a UK Jewish charity which provides overseas aid, has also launched an initiative to help provide humanitarian supplies to the region.

WJR said that it has helped the Kenyan Red Cross purchase 25 tons of corn-soya product, which will provide 2,700 children with a meal in school for six months, and has also assisted UNICEF in Kenya and UNICEF in Ethiopia to buy 15,000 sachets of high protein peanut paste for severely malnourished displaced children, enough to support 200 children for a month.

WJR is also providing funds for UNICEF Kenya to buy water kits for 530 families, which will enable them to collect, treat and store water and has launched an appeal to raise money for the ongoing crisis.

The New York-based American Jewish World Service organization has also begun an emergency aid program for the region and has said it will be working with local partners to distribute aid.

World Food Program director Josette Sheeran said in a statement on Thursday that the drought was creating a “life and death situation in Somalia,” with people in the south of the country too weak to go in search of food.

On Saturday Reuters reported that the Islamist al- Shabaab rebel group, currently at war with international and Somali government forces, is denying the WFP access to the country, leaving 2.2 million Somalis out of the agency’s reach.

Other aid groups, such as the Red Cross, are still being allowed to work in al- Shabaab controlled areas.

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