In 2011, the worst drought in 60 years caused the world's most severe food crisis in East Africa with more than 3.8 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. UNHCR was on the ground delivering life-saving emergency relief.
East Africa Appeal one year on
In October 2012, Australia for UNHCR visited Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia to see how lives have changed since the beginning of our appeal last year.
ABC Radio's Adam Spencer came with us to see with his own eyes the difference made with the support of our generous donors.
Read about Adam's experiences in Ethiopia as he talks about the people he has met and the work that is being done to improve the lives of refugees.
How UNHCR continues to respond to the needs of refugees in East Africa
Since January 2011, UNHCR has seen a massive influx of Somali refugees into Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen and Djibouti (currently over 980,000) placing immense strain on the ability of the local governments to respond to the crisis. Within Somalia itself, more than 1.36 million are internally displaced.
By late 2011, the UN Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit had lifted its "famine" designation for three Somali regions - Bakool, Bay and Lawer Shabelle - downgrading them to "emergency" phase. The improvement followed a break in the region's deadly drought and progress in the UN's ability to deliver food to the country's neediest people. However, while access to food had improved, mortality remained high because of the outbreak of diseases such as acute diarrhea and measles.
In the Ethiopian camps of Kobe and Hilaweyn, a nutrition survey found high levels of malnutrition among children under five years of age. Refugees at all camps arrived from Somalia in extremely poor health. In response, health and nutrition programs were set up by a range of experienced partners to address malnutrition, especially among the youngest children.
These malnutrition programs, along with improved access to health care and improved water and sanitation facilities, have seen the number of deaths decrease automatically since the peak of crisis in 2011.
Funding is now needed to support these camps to continue to provide shelter, food, water and protection for new refugees. Please donate today!
Note: Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australia for UNHCR will direct donations to our Emergency Programs for Refugees to enable us to rapidly address future emergencies as they occur.
How we help
UNHCR staff distributed high energy biscuits for instant calories and micronutrients to those arriving. Shelter and water facilities, nutritional treatment centres and health and sanitation services were put in place.
UNHCR has been able to deliver more than 100 tonnes of relief items including food, shelter, health services and other life-saving aid supplies. These are life-saving interventions and ones that you can support. With many camps already reaching capacity and some far exceeding their limits, resources are stretched. Since January 2011, UNHCR has distributed 59,071 Emergency Assistance Packages reaching more than 350,000 persons in distress inside Somalia. About 75 percent of recipients were in southern Somalia, including in areas controlled by both the Transitional Federal Government and Al-Shabaab.
You can help UNHCR care for these refugees - please donate now and help provide continuing medical treatment, shelter and emergency support.
UGANDA: A web of love and solidarity keeps Eritrean refugees afloat in Kampala - 11 April 2013
KAMPALA, Uganda, April 11 (UNHCR) – The way their heads touch when they speak, their silent camaraderie, the ease with which the little boy passes from one pair of arms to the other, Liya and Yordanos look and act like mother and daughter. In fact, they only met five weeks ago.
GENEVA: Q&A: A royal message from Sharjah – together we can do a lot to help - 4 February 2013
GENEVA, February 4 (UNHCR) – Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah, has been helping Palestinian refugees for several years. More recently, she has become a valued supporter of UNHCR, which has a mandate to provide protection and assistance to more than 10 million refugees around the world.
ETHIOPIA: IKEA Foundation-funded education project helps Somali refugees become self-sufficient - 3 December 2012
KOBE CAMP, Ethiopia, December 3 (UNHCR) – Bonkay may seem a bit old to be going to school but, like her classmates, the 23-year-old mother and refugee missed out on a proper education in her village in central Somalia's Bay region.
Now, they are catching up on their schooling in an Ethiopian refugee camp thanks to the Youth Education Pack, or YEP, a UNHCR-backed programme implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council and funded by the IKEA Foundation. It targets Somali refugees and local Ethiopians aged between 15 and 24 who have little or no formal education and initially focuses on literacy and numeracy training followed by vocational and life skills classes. The aim is to teach people new skills and help them become self-sufficient.
ETHIOPIA: UN education investment scores high marks for Somali refugee students - 1 November 2012
SHEDDER REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia, November 1 (UNHCR) – Seventeen-year-old Hodan's eyes sparkle with joy as she clutches her new English-Somali dictionary – a congratulatory gift from UNHCR on passing a national high school exam.
KENYA: Kakuma camp surpasses its 100,000 capacity - 6 August 2012
KAKUMA REFUGEE CAMP, Kenya, 6 August (UNHCR) – Kakuma Refugee Camp has surpassed its capacity of 100,000 residents, creating serious concerns as more refugees continue to arrive.
SOMALIA: Neighbouring countries feeling the strain as Somalia's emergency grows - 3 May 2010
A top-level UNHCR delegation visiting Somali refugee and IDP camps has seen for itself evidence of the growing humanitarian tragedy facing many thousands of uprooted people. The delegation, led by UNHCR's Deputy High Commissioner, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, examined increasingly overcrowded and under resourced situations in sprawling camps in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and inside Somalia during a two-week visit that has just ended.
SOMALIA: UNHCR alarmed as fighting leaves 230 dead in Mogadishu - 7 September 2010
UNHCR said Tuesday it was alarmed by the further deterioration in the security situation in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, where fighting between government forces and the Al-Shabaab militia has left more than 230 civilians dead and at least 400 wounded in the past fortnight.
SOMALIA: UNHCR appeals for US$60 million to help growing numbers of displaced Somalis - 12 May 2010
The UN refugee agency, alarmed at the rapidly deteriorating security situation and growing displacement in Somalia, appealed on Wednesday for an extra US$60 million to fund operations helping forcibly displaced Somalis within the troubled state and in four neighbouring countries.
KENYA: UNHCR issues urgent appeal to Kenya to halt refoulement of Somali refugees - 3 November 2010
UNHCR appeals to the Kenyan authorities to immediately halt its returns of Somalis from the Border Point 1 camp at Mandera in northeast Kenya.
ETHIOPIA: Some 2,000 Sudanese refugees flee bombing raids in Blue Nile state - 28 October 2011
ASSOSA, Ethiopia, October 28 (UNHCR) – Air attacks this week in Sudan's Blue Nile state have driven almost 2,000 Sudanese civilians to cross the border and seek shelter in the Kurmuk area of western Ethiopia.
SOMALIA: UNHCR concerned about fresh violence - 4 October 2011
GENEVA, October 4 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday it is "very concerned" by the latest escalation of violence in southern Somalia. The renewed clashes between opposing armed groups are further exacerbating the already severe humanitarian situation.