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First U.N. Emergency Airlift Arrives In Nairobi To Provide Drought Aid

“The first U.N. emergency airlift flight arrived in” Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, on Sunday, “to assist the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the drought and famine afflicting their homeland,” ABC News reports (Hasan, 7/17). The jet, which was chartered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), delivered 100 tons of tents meant for the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, the U.N. News Centre writes. An additional four flights are scheduled to arrive in Nairobi this week (7/17).

Also on Sunday, UNICEF called for expanded aid for the region and warned that almost half a million children face death because of the drought, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (7/17). “What we are seeing here is almost a perfect storm – conflict in Somalia, rising fuel and food prices, and drought and the loss of the rain. Now we are going to go another four to five months before there will be a harvest, and we all have a huge job ahead,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a press release after visiting Kenya on a four-day trip (7/17).

In related news, Reuben Brigety, who oversees the State Department’s assistance to refugees and conflict victims in Africa, said the U.S. would provide “significant” aid for the drought in East Africa, which he called one of the largest humanitarian crises in decades, the Associated Press reports. Brigety said the aid would come despite the current debt ceiling debate in Washington (Straziuso, 7/15). Andrew Mitchell, the U.K.’s international development secretary, “on Saturday called on rich European countries to do more to help” those affected in the region, the AP reports. He said the British government would provide $85 million for drought relief and “urged other nations to contribute more” (Houreld, 7/17).

Meanwhile, hospitals in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu have “been hit by a shortage of drugs following the arrival of large numbers of drought-displaced people in the past two months, with health officials reporting that up to five patients were dying daily due to disease outbreaks,” IRIN reports (7/15). Aid agencies on Friday said Somalia “is stretching relief workers to their limits and is now facing a fully-fledged humanitarian catastrophe,” Agence France-Presse writes (7/15).

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