Famine Intensifies Humanitarian Need in Horn of Africa

Baltimore, MD (October 7, 2011) — As record drought and famine continue to threaten the lives of more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa, it is the children who suffer the most. More than 600,000 suffer from life-threatening malnutrition. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) takes you inside the refugee camps of Dolo Ado in Ethiopia for a firsthand look at how IOCC is putting your support into action, trying to save the lives of famine’s most vulnerable victims.

1) More than 25,000 famine victims fill the tents in Kobe refugee camp, near the village of Dolo Ado along the southern border of Ethiopia. This camp opened in late June to accommodate the thousands of refugees fleeing Somalia, at one point as many as 1,500 arriving each day. The camp was filled to capacity in three weeks. Through your generosity, IOCC is working in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox church and partner relief groups to support the ongoing construction of vital public sanitation facilities that help to prevent the spread of deadly diseases in the camp.

2) Some of the refugee women are hired to help prepare the weekly rations of a high-calorie grain mix distributed to the thousands of famine victims living in the camp. Vegetable oil is added to a mixture of corn, soy and sugar. The refugee families add water to the mixture and cook it into porridge. The demand for food is still great as is the need to strengthen the victims to prevent outbreaks of disease like measles and cholera.

3) Young women and small children make up the majority of the refugees at Kobe camp. Eighty-eight percent of the famine victims here are under the age of 18. Many of the women are single parents, having been widowed or whose husbands chose to stay behind or were forbidden by Somali rebels to cross the border. All refugees in Kobe Camp are individually registered in a database and hold ration cards that they use to collect their weekly food supplies.

4) The UN estimates that more than 29,000 children have lost their lives to this disaster and warns that more than 640,000 more Somali children are acutely malnourished and at risk if assistance does not continue. IOCC has partnered with International Medical Corps (IMC) to provide vital nutrition and health support to these youngest famine victims. IOCC staff member, Ryan Erikson, manages the Community Nutrition Center, where each child is registered, examined and enrolled into the supplemental feeding program.

5) Each child’s health is evaluated by measuring the upper arm circumference using a small tape measure with green, yellow and red ranges. A child whose arm measures in the red range suffers from severe malnutrition children. Children in this life-threatening condition are immediately sent to a clinic set up to treat extremely ill children.

6) As many as 400 malnourished children a day come through the Community Nutrition Center staffed by the IOCC and IMC nutrition team. Before evaluation even begins, all children under the age of five receive a soft, peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for treatment of severe malnutrition. The high-protein, high-calorie product supports rapid weight gain, which can make the difference between life and death for a young child.

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 www.iocc.org, 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.