Humanitarian agency RedR Australia is extremely concerned at the increasing number of people in the Horn of Africa facing severe food shortages as the impact of drought, along with high food and fuel prices, continues to worsen.
High levels of acute malnutrition are widespread and more than 11 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of emergency assistance.
Alan McLean, CEO of RedR Australia, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people are moving in the region, in search of food. Pressure is being placed on existing camps and new camps have been established to care for those in greatest need.”
Eleven relief workers mobilised by RedR Australia are active in Ethiopia, South Sudan and in Kenya, where local people at risk have been joined by hundreds of thousands of Somalis needing food and refuge from conflict.
Two food logistics specialists, a camp site planner, and an expert in water, sanitation and hygiene are included in the broad range of skills and experience provided, under the coordination of World Food Programme, UNICEF and UNHCR.
“Australian drought experience is extremely valuable following the failure of two rainy seasons in the affected countries. Deployment of carefully-selected and professionally-prepared personnel is a most appropriate Australian contribution,” Mr McLean said.
“Whilst Australians know well the drought impacts of poor crops and loss of livestock, we find it hard to contemplate that the equivalent of half of Australia’s population could die of starvation if the international community does not move immediately, not only with food but with water, shelter, sanitation and health care,” he added.
Disaster relief personnel on RedR Australia’s Register are on standby to respond to the escalating crisis. The anticipation is that the coming months will include the mobilisation of more specialists, in response to emerging needs.
RedR Australia maintains a Standby Register of highly skilled personnel for United Nations agencies and other established frontline aid organisations to draw on for short-term emergency and disaster relief work.
RedR Australia is also a leading provider of humanitarian response training courses. These courses help equip potential and experienced aid workers with the specialised skills and knowledge to maximise their effectiveness in the field.
RedR Australia’s personnel are also currently assisting humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Ghana, Liberia, Libya (based in Egypt and Tunisia), Namibia, Pakistan, Senegal and Syria (based in Egypt).
Further details about RedR Australia’s Standby Register and training courses can be found at www.redr.org.au.