Thursday, July 21, 2011

OXFAM says early warnings were ignored in Somalia famine

OXFAM says there were some early warning signs that could have prevented the massive loss of life happening now in Somalia. OXFAM spokesperson Anna Ridout does also put a lot of the blame on the el Shabaab militia group that blocked aid from arriving in the famine's early stages.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Isaiah Esipisu gives us OXFAM's view of the humanitarian crisis.
"The situation would not have been this bad if there was emergency response for prevention, despite the conflicts in the country," said Anna Ridout, Oxfam’s spokesperson.

"There has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world's collective responsibility to act. 3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia and arriving in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya that are suffering one of the driest years in six decades. Food, water and emergency aid are desperately needed. By the time the U.N. calls it a famine it is already a signal of large scale loss of life," Oxfam said.

The organisation said that emergency aid was vital now to avoid people dying in massive numbers.

"Whenever there is an indicator of such a disaster, we must not only sit and wait for the emergency response. We can conveniently invest the funds by putting irrigation systems in place, vaccinating people, especially children, against anticipated diseases, and creating proper infrastructure to be used in case there is need for food supply," said Ridout.

Speaking from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, Ridout said that refugees arrive daily and in huge numbers from Somalia. Nearly all the children are malnourished and women are weak and wasted after trekking for days in search of water, food and a chance to live.

"They tell of horrible experiences of children who died along the way, and even adults who drop along the way because they cannot make it to refugee camps, mostly in Kenya or Ethiopia," she said.

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