July 28, 2011

Crisis in the Horn

To all my lovely blog readers,

I know you were expecting a post today with more images from my latest trip to Africa.  However, I have decided to interrupt my postings on Uganda to share with you some information about a crisis happening right now in Africa, just a little north-west of where I was- in The Horn of Africa.

As many of you are aware, I am a proud member of UNICEF’s Next Generation. We study issues facing children and do what we can to help.  The worst drought in over 60 years has struck the countries in the Horn of Africa.  Not only is this among the worst humanitarian disasters we have seen in our lifetime, but here in the U.S. no one is really talking about it – which is crazy!  Over the past week I have spoken with many people about the crisis and it’s amazing how little information is out there and not being covered by the mainstream news outlets.  Most people I’ve talked to haven’t even heard the term Horn of Africa before, and 2 years ago I wouldn’t have known either.  So before I start talking about the crisis I thought I’d share this map with you where I have circled the Horn area which includes Somalia, Kenya, Ethopia, and Djibouti.

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

As Next Geners, we feel it is our duty to take the lead in starting the discourse… A famine has officially been declared in 2 regions in Somalia, it is now a level 3 emergency (the worst kind), and over 60 babies are dying every single day of starvation in some regions – this is absolutely unacceptable.  They warn that all other districts will be in the same condition within the next two months if humanitarian aid isn’t rapidly increased.  Approximately 11 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to the combination of drought, skyrocketing food prices and armed conflict. Among the most vulnerable are 2.23 million children acutely malnourished in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Tens of thousands of families are leaving Somalia each month in search of food and water and it is placing incredible strain on already overstretched refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.  As if the arrival of 10,000 refugees in one week at a single location isn’t enough of a battle on its own, civil conflict has rendered these areas virtually impossible to reach. Somalia’s most dangerous militant group, Al-Shabaab, imposed a ban on humanitarian aid in 2009 and has since attacked organizations that tried to help. I am proud to share that UNICEF did what no other organization has done or could do since the ban; UNICEF successfully negotiated and made the first air-drop of supplies to the Al-Shabab-controlled town of Baidoa.  Which included 5 metric tons of food, clean water equipment and medicine – enough to supply 10 health centers that will to cover the needs of over 100,000 people – this is a much needed sign of hope in the midst of this emergency.  Throughout the rest of Somalia, UNICEF is supporting approximately 800 nutrition centers and scaling up its programs to reach more children.

UNICEF estimates that it will need $100 million over the next six months for a massive scale up of operations to reach children in the drought affected areas with emergency and preventative assistance.
Help us get the word out. If we are to help UNICEF save lives, we need to act NOW. The sooner we act, the more children’s lives can be saved.

Please join me by:
• Educating yourself on the situation
• Talking about it with friends and family or simply by forwarding this email!
• Tweet and Facebook about it
• Donate via our Next Gen page

If we are to help UNICEF save lives, we need to act NOW. The sooner we act, the more children’s lives can be saved. Please consider making a donation to the Horn of Africa through our Next Gen fundraising page. Any amount will help – $10 can feed a child for 10 days.  I have already made my donation and encourage you all to do the same.

As an extra incentive to donate I pledge to gift an original signed and gallery-mounted limited edition 11×17 print of your choosing from any of my images from Africa to the first five of my readers who donate $500 or above.  These prints retail for $500 so please give generously!  This offer will remain open till 5 people have donated $500.  When you donate please send an email with proof of the donation and I will post a comment on this post to say that a slot has been filled so if you see less than five comments the promotion is still open!  I will leave this post up for a week with no new posts so it has a chance to be seen and shared so please pass it on!

I have visited Kenya, but I have yet to make it to Somalia, Ethiopia or Djibouti although they are all on my list!  Over the past couple of months I have shared with you on this blog a lot of images and information about UNICEF and my trip with them to Rwanda.  I spoke about many of their programs that I got to witness first hand like water and sanitation, education, children’s rights, health and nutrition and AIDS prevention and management.  These issues are universal and the programs I witnessed in Rwanda are examples of UNICEF projects being implemented worldwide.  You can check out my posts about UNICEF in Rwanda here.  It is even more important to support UNICEF now than ever because with the current crisis and need in the Horn the other needs of children around the world are still there and also need UNICEF’s support.  I think about the smiles of the children I met in Rwanda everyday and remember their strength and resilience.  To think that just a little northwest from where I was 2 million children are in severe risk is unimaginable.  Even if you aren’t in a position to donate please still check out UNICEF’s website and educate yourself on this crisis and pass on the information to friends and family.  If all the facts I have given you above haven’t inspired you to learn more maybe their smiles will.  After all I did spend four years at NYU learning how putting a face to a far-away issue makes it easier to understand and helps to inspire change.  So here are some amazing faces I met who are all being helped by UNICEF’s projects in Rwanda- feeling inspired yet?


 I wish I could share with you photos from the Horn too, but since I have yet to travel there I will instead share with you a wonderful short multimedia presentation that UNICEF has put together about the current crisis.

Please do whatever you can to help us wake up our generation and make us all pay attention before it is too late!  Thanks for caring and helping us do something about this!  One more time here is the link to donate and show that our generation cares!  UNICEF Next Generation – Crisis in the Horn of Africa