The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday urgently appealed to the donor community for 26.6 million U.S. dollars as part of a massive humanitarian operation being carried out in the Horn of Africa. The UN migration agency said the funding will be used in priority to develop in close coordination with host governments, UNHCR and UNICEF, an emergency network to provide vital transportation assistance to vulnerable people from border regions and informal settlements to organized camps inside Kenya and Ethiopia.
"IOM is deeply concerned at the plight of the more than 12 million people who are gravely affected by the drought and the famine in the Horn of Africa," IOM's Director General William Swing said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The appeal came after the United Nations declared famine in further parts of southern Somalia, severe drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, coupled with an unrelenting influx of refugees and high prices of basic food commodities in the region.
IOM said it will ensure medical screening and referral services are systematically provided to address the needs of the most vulnerable, especially women, children and the sick.
It said it will also work with government counterparts and humanitarian partners to identify and address unmet needs in the provision of shelter, non-food Items (NFIs), medical assistance and community-based livelihood programs for both displaced and host communities. "We stand ready to increase our support and work as one with our governmental and humanitarian partners to respond to the critical needs of those affected by this disaster of epic proportion," Swing said.
In north-eastern Kenya, IOM plans to extend transportation assistance to vulnerable Somalis who regularly arrive after a long and dangerous trek from the south central regions of Gedo, Lower and middle Shabelle.
Unable to walk the remaining 90 kilometres from the Liboi/ Dobley border area crossing to Dadaab camp, many exhausted and dehydrated women, children, elderly and sick individuals risk being left behind.
"The funds will be used to rehabilitate water retention structures and wells along livestock migratory routes and re-stock drought affected communities with camels, which are more resistant to drought and diseases. Community training for herders on pasture storage, conservation and use will also take place," IOM said.
As part of the appeal, IOM is asking for a funding to the tune of 180,000 dollars to provide emergency transport and medical assistance to 4, 200 Somalis who have entered Djibouti on foot fleeing from famine and draught. With more than 500 staff in 16 locations across the Horn of Africa, IOM is well placed to support and supplement the efforts deployed by governments and humanitarian actors to alleviate the plight of drought affected communities.
Since Aug. 1, at the request of the local Kenyan authorities and in coordination with UN partners, IOM has assisted 204 vulnerable individuals, mostly women and children, who are stranded in the middle of nowhere in the extreme heat of the semi- desert region, with no water or food.
In neighbouring Ethiopia, IOM has started to provide transportation assistance to Somalis from the border area transit camps to Dolo Ado and to the main camps of Bokolmanyo, Melkedia and Holweyn, some 35 kilometres away.
IOM has also been tasked by UNHCR to relocate refugee family members between camps as part of a family re-unification process. To date, IOM has assisted a total of 328 refugees, including 133 family reunification cases. Additional funding would allow IOM to increase its capacity to provide assistance to up to 74,000 newly arrived Somalis. "Drawing from its expertise in the provision of emergency shelter, IOM plans to use the funds to provide safe and dignified shelter to refugees living in the Dadaab camp outskirts and to provide shelter assistance to those relocated to the nearby Ifo extension site," it said.
Another area of IOM intervention is the provision of emergency livestock support to drought-affected communities in north eastern Kenya.