Somalia Teeters on the Brink of Famine: Team Will Help Starving Families

Worst Food Crisis in the 21st Century Puts Thousands of Lives At-Risk; Somali-American Community, ARAHA and American Refugee Committee Team Up to Help

July 7, 2011—Severe drought in East Africa has left people across the region struggling to survive.  Somalia has been particularly hard hit and is now teetering on the brink of famine.  Children are dying of starvation, and people are in desperate need of assistance.

The Somali-American community is leading an effort in partnership with the American Refugee Committee and American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) to feed starving families in Mogadishu, Somalia. ARAHA teams on the ground encountered the families seeking shelter in an abandoned building.  “Our team reported that these families made the journey to Mogadishu on foot.  Most of the people couldn’t even talk due to their condition.  They are starving,” said Mohamed Idris, Executive Director of ARAHA.  “We are hearing of many young children dying of hunger and exhaustion during the journey.  Conditions are dire.”

Rainfall has been sparse for more than a year, and reports indicate this is the driest year in 60 years.  And conditions in the region continue to deteriorate.   Livestock are dying due to the dry conditions, leaving families without sources of food and income.  Food prices have also skyrocketed—in southern Somalia, sorghum prices have risen by 240 percent in the past year.  Children are the most vulnerable victims in this crisis, and many of them are severely malnourished.  Unless aid is delivered quickly, they have little chance of surviving.

The relief effort is focused on helping drought victims in Somalia, where people have little access to help.  After 20 years of crisis, an estimated one-quarter of Somalia’s 7.5 million people have been forced from their homes or are living as refugees outside of Somalia.  “The people of Somalia are struggling to survive in the most difficult environment on earth,” said Daniel Wordsworth, President of the American Refugee Committee.  “This effort will help save lives.” 

•    The American Refugee Committee is taking donations at:  American Refugee Committee; 430 Oak Grove Street, Suite 204; Minneapolis, MN  55403 USA; tel 612-872-7060 or at .
•    ARAHA is taking donations at:  ARAHA; 2111 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN  55418 USA; tel 612-781-7646 or at .

American Refugee Committee:  American Refugee Committee programs are built from the ground up.  We work with people at the most vulnerable points in their lives, when they have lost everything to war or disaster.  They let us know what they need most, and we work together to develop ways to help them get it.  Our programs are as diverse as the people we serve, but they all work together for the same goal:  to help people take back control of their lives.  We help nearly 2.5 million people a year through programs around the world.  Through our “Neighbors for Nations” initiative, we are partnering with the Somali diaspora community to build community in Somalia and in the US.  We are based in Minneapolis, MN.  To learn more, visit

ARAHA:  For more than a decade, the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) has strived to alleviate the suffering from hunger, illiteracy, disease, and poverty in the Horn of Africa.  Through focused relief and income-generating programs, ARAHA works to deliver essentials while developing opportunities for people in need. To learn more, visit .

Internally Displaced Somali Advisory Council:  The Somali Advisory Council is a group of 11 Somali professionals representing every region of Somalia.  They have offered counsel to the American Refugee Committee’s Neighbors for Nations effort, which works to build community in the U.S. and in Somalia.  The Council shares a vision for Somalia as a whole and is committed to a focus on humanitarian needs.

Press contact: Therese Gales at (612) 221-5161 or (612) 607-6494

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