HOTLINE - week of August 15, 2011

Drought crisis in the Horn of Africa continues, Hundreds of thousands affected by severe flooding in Sindh province, Pakistan, Tsunami recovery in Japan

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Somali refugees arriving at the Dadaab camp in northeastern Kenya -- the world's largest refugee settlement.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Drought crisis in the Horn of Africa continues

More than 100,000 people have come to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya since the beginning of the year.  And they still arrive at up to 1,500 a day as people flood in from famine-stricken Somalia.  Designed to hold 90,000, Dadaab is now a sprawling camp of some 420,000.  A Church World Service team is working in the camp to help re-settle refugees and free up space. 

The story of Noor Somow Bydoe and his extended family of 40 is typical of the struggles people face to reach Dadaab. Their journey from Sako, in Somalia, took 15 days. On the way, “we were met by bandits,” says Bydoe, 55. “In the end… we arrived here with nothing.”  One of the children in the group, a baby girl, died on the way.

Bydoe explained that so many Somalis are willing to risk the hazardous trek to Dadaab because of hunger and insecurity that drives them to the border and safe refuge. Bydoe used to work a 7 ½-acre farm, now abandoned. Everybody left in the area is hungry, he says.

Besides working in the Dadaab camp, CWS is providing emergency food, water and other assistance to more than 97,000 households in Kenya, and is supporting the efforts of ACT Alliance working in Somalia and Ethiopia.

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Hundreds of thousands affected by severe flooding in Sindh province, Pakistan

Heavy monsoon rains in parts of Pakistan’s Sindh province have submerged houses, destroyed crops and affected as many as 750,000 people.  At least 18 people have died and additional loss of life and food shortages are feared due to large scale damage to mud and straw homes, livestock and crops including cotton, mustard and rice. The possibility of more flooding is a concern.

Disruption of communication and roads continues to pose challenges in collecting information on the severity of damages, particularly in terms of long-term food security due to crop losses. 

Although media and humanitarian organizations in the affected areas report needs such as food, shelter, medicines and clean drinking water, an official call for assistance has yet to be issued.

CWS-Pakistan/Afghanistan’s first response team is conducting a rapid needs assessment. The team is in close coordination with its partners and government authorities and is prepared to respond if the need arises for food, non-food items and tents.

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Tsunami recovery in Japan

Families continue to recover from the devastating March 11 tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan, washing away several coastal cities. Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were the worst hit.

Tens of thousands of people are still living in evacuation centers or temporary shelters.  Government capacity to cope with the disaster remains an ongoing problem.  Huge gaps remain in providing food, health care, schooling, shelter and other services. Non-governmental organizations, including CWS’s partners on the ground, are assisting in filling some of these gaps but need further support to continue their work, reports Takeshi Komino, head of emergencies for CWS-Asia/Pacific.

CWS has supported a group of partners, including those under the Japan Platform, an international emergency aid consortium of 32 Japanese non-governmental organizations, the business community and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Through the Platform, CWS works with NICCO, Peace Boat, SEEDS Asia and Oxfam Japan. 

Peace Boat has provided more than 68,000 hot meals to survivors -- an average of 1,500 meals per day.  Through the end of June, 20,200 volunteers have cleared mud from houses, shops and ditches in Ishinomaki, and also removed rotting fish from drains and irrigation ditches, which posed a health risk. Peace Boat also provides volunteer teams to clean the port area and is salvaging and cleaning fishing equipment in an effort to help recover lost jobs.  

CWS supported medical efforts by NICCO during the initial emergency phase, and will support a childcare program that will start in September and run through June 2012.

SEEDS-Asia has provided clerical and logistical support to Kesennuma Reconstruction Association to assist it in providing job opportunities for those affected by the tsunami. 

Oxfam Japan has provided 5,398 referrals for people needing psychosocial assistance to counselors.

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