Caroline Johnston Polisi is a UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee member.
Disheartened by the lack of attention the situation in the horn of Africa is receiving in the mainstream media, Elizabeth Yale and Emily Griset, Co-Chairs of Next Gen’s Program and Emergency Response Committee, invited Lisa Szarkowski, Vice President of Public Relations for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, for an informal discussion about the crisis. Lisa relayed her first-hand experiences in the field at the stabilization centers in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, and spoke candidly about her assessments, often stopping to take questions from the group. She noted that even as the rest of the world is finally beginning to recognize the severity of the situation, conditions are getting worse; she estimates that in the last three to six months, thirteen to fourteen hundred people a day seek refuge in the camps, which were originally structured to accommodate 90,000 people and now hold over 400,000.
If you missed Scott Pelly’s report on the situation in Kenya, where hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees are in critical need of help, watch it now. Some of the content is graphic, and devastating. All of it is happening now.
Scott Pelly, the news anchor for CBS News, will be reporting live from Dadaab, Kenya tonight about the crisis in the Horn of Africa during the evening news broadcast at 6:30 p.m. EST.
The segment will feature Chris Tidey and Leila Abrar, UNICEF staff members based in the camp.
Yesterday morning, I accompanied UNICEF’s health specialist on the second day of vaccinations at Ifo camp in Dadaab. Over the coming days, more than 220,000 children under five in the camps and host communities will be immunized against measles and polio.
Chris Tidey is a UNICEF communications officer presently supporting emergency relief efforts in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Today is his 30th birthday.
With two million children at risk of dying from malnutrition, disease and dehydration in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and other Horn of Africa countries from the worst drought in 60 years, many of us struggle with how to make a difference in such a massive crisis. We can wrap our arms around a donation to provide shelter, food or medicine for one child, but the enormity of this current situation often results in no one doing anything. We become overwhelmed.