Our Perspective

      • Honouring humanitarian workers worldwide | Jordan Ryan

        19 Aug 2011

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        A UNDP worker helps in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Photo: UNDP/Mariana Nissen

        Today, 19 August 2011, the United Nations celebrates the third World Humanitarian Day to honour people who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need around the world.  Humanitarian workers assist those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and sources of income to the terrible toll of disasters and conflict. Many humanitarian workers face danger, live in difficult conditions often far apart from their families and loved ones. Their commitment and dedication advance the cause of our common humanity and make us proud. Wherever there are people in need, there are people at the ready to help – brave individuals seeking to ease suffering and bring hope to those less fortunate. Far too many have paid the ultimate price for this commitment, and have lost their lives. It is with them in mind that we mark this day. It is only fitting that each of us consider what we can do to help people enduring disaster, violent conflict, and hardship. We should not underestimate the positive impact each of us can make for those in need.  The current crisis unfolding in the Horn of Africa requires immediate and concerned action. Thousands of people are in danger from drought, famine and conflict. Read More

      • The Epicentre of a Crisis

        09 Aug 2011

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        Humanitarian aid workers are working hard to assist the IDPs through the distribution of corn-soya blend to assist the malnourished children as well as the elderly. (Photo: OCHA/Abdi Noor Yussuf)

        Almost two million Somalis have left their homes in search of food and tens of thousands have died from hunger.  And the numbers continue to rise. I went to Dollow on the Somali side of the Ethiopian border to see for myself what was happening. What I saw and heard was alarming. About 150 families a day were arriving and all of them told the same story. They were running out of resources and knew they could not survive much longer. They had walked for three to four weeks, often leaving relatives too weak to follow by the roadside. After my trip we began to collate the information and the latest round of surveys was horrifying. In some areas over 50% of children were classified as being acutely malnourished— these are globally unprecedented figures. The mortality figures were just as grim with four to five children under five years-old per 10,000 dying each day. The declaration of famine was not a decision taken lightly and demonstrates the severity and urgency of the crisis. The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was asked to validate the findings.   In the next few weeks other areas of southern Somalia will slide into Read More

      • Drought is Life or Death Issue in Horn Of Africa

        13 Jul 2011

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        An estimated 3,000 people a day are arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia seeking help. Photo: UN Photo

        According to the latest reports by the World Food Programme, some 10 million people are affected by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in 60 years.  An estimated 3,000 people a day are arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia seeking help.  People are arriving in a very weak condition and it is very distressing to hear of the fatalities this severe hardship is causing.   Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has just been to Mogadishu and also to the refugee camp at Dollo in Ethiopia – both places where drought victims are heading.  UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, has also been to the Somali refugee camps and called for urgent help for the drought victims. My overwhelming concern right now is that people are dying because of the drought, particularly those who must leave their land and their homes to walk long distances, in a weakened condition, to try to find food and water.  Many Somalis are crossing borders to do that.  Sheer survival is a battle for many families right now. Looking ahead, more support is needed to develop drought-resistant agriculture and small holder farming in the areas affected.  As there has been insufficient support for this Read More

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