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The “worst humanitarian disaster” in the world

We’re not sure why this hasn’t received more coverage in the U.S. media, but a devastating drought in Somalia is causing what the head of the UN refugee agency calls the ”worst humanitarian disaster” in the world:

The Kenyan camp, Dadaab, is overflowing with tens of thousands of newly arrived refugees forced into the camp by the parched landscape in the region where Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya meet. The World Food Program estimates that 10 million people already need humanitarian aid. The U.N. Children’s Fund estimates that more than 2 million children are malnourished and in need of lifesaving action.

Antonio Guterres, the head of UNHCR who visited Dadaab on Sunday, appealed to the world to supply the “massive support” needed by thousands of refugees showing up at this camp every week. More than 380,000 refugees now live there. [Update- that number is now at 440,000, in a camp originally built to house 90,000 people.]

U.S. State Department official Reuben E. Brigety says that overall mortality rate at other camps in Ethiopia is seven people out of 10,000 per day, when a normal crisis rate is two per day.

“There are many seasoned relief professionals who would tell you we haven’t seen a crisis this bad in a generation. We anticipate that this crisis will get worse before it gets better.”

Food aid has finally started to arrive in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, but donor fatigue has hurt aid agencies’ ability to work in the horn of Africa, because, according to a UNICEF spkoesman:

“These recurrent droughts used to happen every 5-10 years but what we see now is it basically every other year … an indication of climate change conditions.”

If you’re moved to donate, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and Oxfam are all working to bring food and medical supplies to countries affected by the drought.

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