A video about the live-saving work of Islamic Relief in drought-stricken Kenya will be screened at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Liverpool on September 26. It reports on a visit to the country earlier this month by Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.
Ms Harman visited the north-eastern district of Wajir, seeing for herself how Islamic Relief mobile health teams, food aid and water projects are keeping hope alive in remote villages in the face of the country’s worst drought for 60 years. She also visited the world’s biggest refugee camp at Dadaab, home to over 440,000 Somali refugees.
In the video Ms Harman tells Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief’s UK Director: “The scale of the challenge is terrible, the suffering is awful, but there is no doubt that the work Islamic Relief and DFID are doing is saving lives in the most desperate of circumstances.”
In a report about the visit on her website (harrietharman.org.uk), Ms Harman supports Islamic Relief’s call for a new global relief fund to enable the UN to respond to disasters more swiftly and effectively. “To ensure that there is a rapid response to famine as soon as it is needed, there should be a new International Emergency Fund,“ she writes. “Once malnutrition takes hold it causes more suffering and is more costly to treat.”
Islamic Relief has a stand at the conference where it is promoting the idea of a global disaster relief fund and talking about the three main humanitarian emergencies it is currently tackling – in East Africa, Pakistan and Yemen (see Notes to Editors, overleaf).
“The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund does help the UN to move swiftly when disaster first strikes but it’s a voluntary fund and the $500 million it provides each year is only a drop in the ocean of need,” says Jehangir Malik. “In East Africa alone the UN needs $2.5 billion to mount a comprehensive drought response, and people are dying in their tens of thousands while it struggles to extract the funds it needs from the international community. The time has come for a much bigger contingency fund to end the lottery of disaster relief, financed by all donor countries according to their means under an international agreement.”
For more information or to arrange an interview with Jehangir Malik at the conference, contact Martin Cottingham (07974-109914) or Safiya Sayed Baharun (07872-403534).
NOTES TO EDITORS
Islamic Relief is one of the UK’s leading aid and development charities but it is also a global organisation with branches in 100 countries. It is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (dec.org.uk), and works to alleviate the suffering of the world's poorest people.
In East Africa food aid is the only hope of survival for over 12 million people in the grip of the region’s worst drought for 60 years. The drought has turned crops and green pastures to dust, dried up water sources and wiped out livestock across a huge area of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
In Somalia Islamic Relief is one of the few international aid agencies working extensively in both transitional government-controlled and Al Shabab-controlled areas. It is distributing food to 160,000 people in Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle and Mogadishu – four of the areas in greatest need. As well as running mobile health clinics it is providing latrines to prevent the spread of disease in camps for displaced people and has established a diarrhoea triage centre at Mogadishu’s Banadir hospital to ensure that severely malnourished children get swift and effective treatment.
In Kenya Islamic Relief has provided emergency food supplies to thousands of children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, widows, the elderly and the disabled in Wajir and Mandera districts – two of the areas worst affected by the drought. Its mobile health clinics monitor malnutrition levels among children in 39 remote villages of Wajir and provide high-protein food supplements for the most severely malnourished. It also helps fund specialist hospital treatment for those too weak or ill to feed themselves. It has provided or renovated over 50 wells and boreholes this year, providing over 75,000 people with clean, safe water.
In Ethiopia Islamic Relief’s emergency response is focused on the eastern Afar and Somali regions. In August alone it provided 129 tonnes of high-protein food supplements for 7,950 malnourished children and vulnerable adults, together with counselling and health advice. It trucked water to 40,000 people in the Somali region and provided intensive treatment for 272 severely malnourished people.
In Pakistan Islamic Relief is providing food aid, emergency shelter and hygiene kits for 30,000 families affected by monsoon floods in the southern province of Sindh. The floods have killed 200 people and affected around five million, many of whom have received inadequate help since the floods of 2010 – the worst in the country’s history. Islamic Relief wants the government of Pakistan and the international community to invest more in flood prevention and in flood and earthquake-resistant housing of the type that Islamic Relief itself has been building in many villages.
In Yemen violent clashes between government and tribal groups have led thousands to flee their homes in search of safety and security. Many families are struggling to survive as food prices increase. Islamic Relief has distributed food and essential household items such as mattresses and blankets to thousands of people in Aden, and is planning to extend this assistance to Arhab and Lahj.
September 26 2011