As United Nations Declares Famine in Somalia Iocc Responds with Aid to Refugee Camps

Newly arrived refugee children from Somalia await food and shelter in an Ethiopian camp. Children of the Horn of Africa have been the most vulnerable victims of the famine, with up to 50 percent suffering from life-threatening malnutrition and many dying before they could reach help. (photo: Riccardo Gangale/UNICEF)

Baltimore, MD (July 21, 2011) — Responding to the United Nations announcement declaring a famine in two regions of Somalia, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC), is delivering financial assistance to provide critically needed healthcare support for millions of people in the Horn of Africa suffering through one of the worst droughts in history.

Through its emergency healthcare partners, IOCC support puts nursing and public healthcare specialists into action to aid victims of this unfolding massive humanitarian crisis. Their efforts address lifesaving needs in southern Ethiopian refugee camps of Bokolmanyo, Malkadida, as well as Kobe, where UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, estimates that more than half of the camp’s population is acutely malnourished, and Dollo Ado, where refugee numbers have swelled the camp to five times its capacity and stretched aid resources to the limit. As new refugees stream into overcrowded camps daily in such weakened states that they require intensive emergency medical attention, it is the children that are most vulnerable, with at least 500,000 acutely malnourished children in the drought-affected areas facing life-threatening health consequences if immediate medical and nutritional help does not reach them, according to UN children’s organization, UNICEF.

IOCC supported relief work also addresses immediate basic sanitation and hygiene issues to prevent disease outbreak in such overcrowded conditions, as well as developing more long-term and sustainable solutions to help alleviate the emergency needs of Somali refugees in southern camps of Ethiopia.

Two growing seasons without rain on farmland and pastures have created devastating drought conditions in the Horn of Africa, leaving failed crops and dying livestock. The people of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have been hardest hit by the drought-induced food shortage. The famine in Somalia’s southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions accounts for the acute malnutrition rates above 30 percent, and tens of thousands of Somalis have died in the last few months as a result of causes related to malnutrition, the majority of them children.

How You Can Help

You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like those in Horn of Africa, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented relief and development programs in more than 40 countries around the world.