2011-07-13 12:21:20

Drought: Stories of suffering

The World Food Programme is appealing for urgent funding to help feed refugees flocking to camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa area. It says the drought afflicting the region has left millions at the mercy of hunger and predicts that the number of those who need food aid could rise from the current 6 million to 10 million in the coming months.

One person who has seen with his own eyes the suffering caused by this drought crisis is David Orr, a spokesperson for the WFP. He’s just returned from his latest visit to the refugee camps at Dadaab in northern Kenya where more than a thousand Somalis are arriving each day, after trekking for days or sometimes weeks, from their homeland. He spoke to Susy Hodges about the plight of these refugees:

"Well, they're suffering considerably... they are walking for days, sometimes for weeks, to reach the camps with very little food on their journey." Orr says in addition to their lack of food and water, the refugees are often attacked en route. "I met a family, half a village actually, who in addition to having very little food on their journey, had been attacked by bandits and robbed of most of their possessions."

When asked if many people, especially children, die during this long and dangerous journey, Orr replies: "we hear many stories from families who arrive in Dadaab who have lost children along tthe way, I met one man who had buried his wife just before they set out for Dadaab and along the way he buried one of his children" ... Even after arriving at the camps, Orr says "children continue to die, there's a very high rate of malnutrition."

Listen to Susy Hodges' full interview with Orr: RealAudioMP3

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