Lane Hartill 202.640.6608 (W), 202.294.9700 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (July 15, 2011) — Save the Children has started feeding malnourished Somali refugee children in a preregistration site and a transit center during their wait to be registered in refugee camps in southern Ethiopia. With more than 2,000 Somalis crossing into Ethiopia every day at the Dolo Ado border crossing, the two sites have grown to more than 20,000 people. Once they complete their registration at these two sites, they will join the refugees in the nearby camps whose numbers have swollen to more than 100,000 in the last few weeks.
Because of the overwhelming numbers of new arrivals, many Somalis wait days or weeks in the preregistration site and transit centers before they are registered. Save the Children is feeding thousands of the newly arrived children waiting to be registered with a simple porridge made from corn soy blend. This nutritious meal is crucial for children and their parents who have little access to food while waiting to be registered.
The number of Somalis in need of emergency humanitarian assistance is now 2.85 million, or about 1 in 3 Somalis. In Dolo Ado, more than 23,000 new refugees arrived in the month of June alone.
“The refugee influx into Dolo Ado is the most acute humanitarian crisis in the country today,” said Duncan Harvey, the acting country director for Save the Children in Ethiopia. “In terms of the sheer numbers of people affected, this is one of the worst droughts the world has seen in a long time.”
Dero Mohamad Yusuf, a mother of four, traveled for five days on a truck from southern Somalia with her children and husband. She spent six days waiting at the refugee camp before being registered. She and her family then spent another two weeks at a transit center before being able to enter the camp itself.
“We have been here for 14 days now and received food only for the first six days,” she said. “Although the solidarity of the community of Dolo and our fellow refugees has been very important, the conditions stay difficult for my children, husband and me.”
The drought in the Horn of Africa has affected some 10 million people. In Ethiopia alone, the number of refugees could easily surpass 200,000 in just months. Tens of thousands of Somalis are believed to be traveling to both Kenya and Ethiopia.
Duncan Harvey continued: “As no rains are expected in the region until September or October, this crisis is set to continue for many months. The tens of thousands of Somalis who have already left Somalia, and who are planning to leave now, will find it impossible to return home any time soon.”
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