6 October 2011
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Somali Red Crescent have started their largest food distribution programme, which aims to reach 1.1 million people in the next three months.
The UN says that hundreds of people are dying every day due to the famine in the southern regions of Somalia. At least half of them are children.
This latest operation comes after the organisations spent July and August distributing food for 162,000 people in famine-stricken southern Somalia, and is a result of the ICRC’s continued negotiations with all sides to the conflict.
Neutrality and a vast network
Thanks to ICRC and Somali Red Crescent’s neutrality, they are among the few allowed to operate in al-Shabab controlled central and southern Somalia.
Because of their long history in the country and vast network, they are the only organisations able to conduct such a large, complex distribution.
The operation will take three months and will bring food to the most vulnerable, including farmers and pastoralists.
Saving malnourished children
The ICRC has also increased its support for the Somali Red Crescent’s therapeutic feeding centres, which are saving the lives of acutely malnourished children.
Andrea Heath, who is in charge of the ICRC's economic security activities in Somalia, said: "We have reason to be optimistic about children receiving treatment in therapeutic feeding centres run by the Somali Red Crescent. At least 95 per cent of them will be cured within two months."
The distributions which have now begun will also provide seed and fertiliser to nearly a quarter of a million farmers, meaning that if conditions allow, they may be able to harvest crops at the beginning of 2012.
The ICRC distributed 134 irrigation pumps in July and August to help increase food production for over 6,200 people. In addition, more than 200 people are taking part in cash-for-work projects upgrading irrigation channels along the Shabelle River.
Another 140 people have been given items to help them set up small businesses such as kiosks and salt production farms in Lower Shabelle.
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