Insufficient funds hit Horn of Africa aid efforts

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 02, 2011 8:23 AM
Insufficient funds hit Horn of Africa aid efforts

By Beatrice Gachenge

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Donor fatigue following recurrent humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa has left aid agencies short of funds to carry out their work.

The number of refugees in need of assistance has risen in countries affected by a severe drought, including Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, a UNICEF spokesman said.

"The big problem is really among the donors that this region (Horn of Africa) has been in the crisis for quite a while, particularly Somalia," Michael Klaus, spokesman for east and southern Africa, told Reuters in an interview.

"There is always the danger of a certain fatigue. So the donors may give up and think 'well, okay, we know this is a crisis, it has been going on for 20 years and it comes again and again," he said, adding that this year the situation was particularly acute.

For Kenya, aid agencies have appealed for $525 million, but only received 55 percent so far, and for Somalia they have appealed for $529 million, and only received 50 percent.

The UNICEF portion of that appeal is 69 percent for Kenya and 55 percent for Somalia.

UNICEF Somalia alone needs at least $10 million alone in the next month to maintain its vaccination, and therapeutic feeding among other activities, Klaus said.

With the shift in climate patterns, donors needed to link development support to humanitarian assistance so developing countries could cope with the cyclical droughts, he said.

"We realized these recurrent droughts used to happen every 5-10 years but what we see now is it basically every other year ... an indication of climate change conditions," said Klaus.

Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world in the north of Kenya, was originally build for 90,000 people but now has 380,000 refugees. Ethiopia is hosting about 80,000 refugees who have crossed from Somalia, Klaus said.

(Editing by George Obulutsa and Robert Woodward)