Humanitarians and activists share their stories from Dadaab, encouraging
people not to lose sight of the families affected by the famine and
drought in East Africa
DADAAB, Kenya, Sept. 6, 2011 /CNW/ - Acclaimed actress and humanitarian Mia Farrow, along with child rights activist and humanitarian Craig Kielburger have just returned from visiting the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya,
providing support and aid to the families affected by the East Africa
drought. The two activists share some of their personal stories while
visiting the refugee camp through the below joint article, video and
Access to article, photos and video asset:
Dadaab: What Will Happen Now?
By Mia Farrow and Craig Kielburger, Dadaab, Kenya
CNN's Anderson Cooper and the other A-list TV journalists are long gone
from Dadaab refugee camp on the Somali border. The huge satellite dish,
which enabled live broadcasts, was packed up last week and trucked
Relief workers told us their hearts sank as the dish departed. Much more
than a journalistic tool, it had been a beacon of hope. As long as the
stories of drought and death were being transmitted, help would surely
come: donations, food, and the world's compassion.
But what will happen now? This is still the most desperate place on
Earth, and the situation is deteriorating, even if there is no one here
to broadcast the stories of the suffering, stories like that of Ibrahim
Ali, a farmer from southern Somalia, told us that because of the drought
his crop had failed for the past four seasons, and his livestock died.
Without food or savings, he and his wife and four children grew weaker.
They could not survive for long. Ali heard there was a 'safe place' at
the Kenyan border. The family left their home and everything they knew
in a desperate search for food and water. They walked for 21 days.
On this day we meet Ali sitting in a long line of refugees waiting for a
medical exam at the gateway to Dadaab, a sprawl of tents lashed to the
desert floor. He clutches a gaunt six-year-old boy, who seemed to look
through us with his glassy eyes.
"Where are your other children? Your wife?" we asked the father,
Ali looking down into the dust, whispers his reply. On the long walk to
Dadaab, his wife, then three of the children fell ill, and one by one,
they died. He buried each of them as best he could along the roadside.
He told us he wanted to sit down and die, too, but there was one
remaining son. Ali was determined to save him, and so they walked on.
Now this family of just two has joined more than 400,000 people at the
camp, with at least 1,500 new refugees arriving from Somalia each day.
We met three-year-old Ali Noor Gedi in a make-shift ICU medical tent.
Nurses measured the thickness of his match-stick thin arm. They will
try to feed him, not by mouth or veins, but by threading a tube through
his nose to pump a milky liquid into his stomach.
The child tries to cry, but his body is unable to make tears.
We don't know if he will be able to absorb the nutrients, or if help for
Ali Noor Gedi has come too late.
Kenyans, too, are facing starvation. In desperation, some have tried to
pass themselves off as refugees in order gain access to the camp, and
the dwindling food rations. But they are ousted, and left to fend for
There is no major media here to tell of the story of refugees like
Ibrahim or Ali Noor Gedi, or of the hunger of the Kenyans, or of the
millions of children across the Horn of Africa.
The World Food Program, the sole supplier of food for refugees here,
does not have the funding to cover this catastrophic humanitarian
crisis. WFP has helped nearly eight million drought-stricken people in
the Horn of Africa since last July, but it does not have the $250
million necessary to sustain people over the next six months.
Before leaving Dadaab, journalists on our nightly news predicted that
the rains would come in October, implying that this would end the
crisis. But that is not the whole truth. The planting season will have
passed. The rains, if they come, will likely bring flooding and
disease, including cholera.
It is believed that the famine will peak at the end of November or early
December, as we are preparing to celebrate our winter holidays.
A generation ago, in 1991 and 1992, the world responded to save millions
of Ethiopians from famine. Please don't look away from Ibrahim Ali and
his six-year-old son. Spare a thought for Ali Noor Gediin the ICU, and
for the 12.5 million souls in East Africa who are facing starvation
today and for the next several months.
Without further delay governments must make good on their pledges to the
World Food Program. And each of us should do what we can before
millions of the world's most vulnerable people perish.
One dollar can sustain one person for one day. Imagine if everyone gave
at this time, and through the holiday season. Long after the satellite
dish has gone.
Mia Farrow is an internationally acclaimed actress, UNICEF Goodwill
Ambassador and humanitarian activist. Craig Kielburger is a social
activist, bestselling author and co-founder of Free The Children and Me
to We. For additional information on the Global Voices program, please
SOURCE Free the Children
For further information:
Free The Children
416-925-5894 ext 805