More than 140,000 Somalia refugees and internally displaced people situated in transit camps along the border in west Somalia are in need of urgent assistance.
World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello, who is travelling to the Horn of Africa to visit refugee camps, said an assessment team from the organisation had been shocked at the conditions in the camp.
“Drought and now famine in south-central Somalia has forced many families to take huge risks, leaving their homes and walking long distances for many days to reach food and water,” he said.
“Thousands of these people are now concentrated in self constructed transit camps along the border in Dollo Ado in Ethiopia and Dolo in Somalia. These camps cannot cope with the influx of people as they do not have basic sanitation, medical facilities or adequate shelter.”
The United Nations estimates that 87 percent of refugees in Dollo Ado are children under18, while one third of all children under five are acutely malnourished. An estimated 1,000 people a day are arriving in Dolo.
“Our staff reported that many children appeared visibly ill and weak. During the visit, the team delivered cartons a vitamin rich emergency food through a local feeding centre to help severely malnourished children. They also distributed emergency medical supplies,” Rev Costello said.
“In a few days, World Vision hopes to deliver more aid and establish a response base. The scale of this crisis means that we need more help from the international community. Without urgent food aid thousands of people will suffer and die needlessly from malnutrition and disease.”
The severe drought in East Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa, is becoming one of the worst disasters to strike the continent in decades.
Across the region it is estimated that the lives of some 13 million people - the equivalent to about half the Australian population – are in danger.
World Vision has been responding to the emergency since late last year. The organisation is currently helping more than 1 million people in the three most affected countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. It also has plans to assist more than 400,000 people who need food aid in Tanzania.