By Jennifer O’Riordan

In the fall of 2011, thousands of families who had fled Somalia’s dangerous south for the north began to experience a devastating famine.

War and other violence in southern Somalia in the past three years has led to thousands of deaths and forced thousands more to flee their homes without their possessions or the hope of return in the near future.

Drought and food shortages throughout the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, continue to affect those living in the displacement camps of the country’s Puntland region.

Last fall, Counterpart recognized that help was needed quickly in northern Somalia. United Nations figures suggest that more than 29,000 children younger than 5 have died in the famine.

“The drought in the Horn of Africa has devastated the lives of thousands of people and their livelihoods,” says Rang Hee Kim, Director of Humanitarian Assistance at Counterpart. “With the generous support and strong partnerships in the U.S. and in Somalia, Counterpart is pleased to be able to respond to this need and extend a helping hand.”

In collaboration with two U.S. organizations, the Churches of Christ and Feed My Starving Children, and working with the Kaalo Relief and Development Organization in Garowe, Somalia, Counterpart has shipped three cargo containers of food and hygiene supplies to those in need.

The third container arrived March 17, and its contents, fortified rice and soy protein meal packages called MannaPacks, have since been distributed to about 3,780 people living in the displacement camps.

The food packages supplement hygiene kits, kitchen supplies and water buckets that arrived in the two earlier containers. These supplies are proving invaluable to displaced Somalis trying to survive the crisis.

“The food and nonfood items we received have improved our living conditions,” says Iisho Maadey Isaaq, a mother of three living in Garowe’s Banadir camp. “We eat the food. We use the other nonfood items as they were intended – like the buckets, we use them for fetching water and other necessities. These displaced people will never forget your assistance.”

The third container was loaded Nov. 18 in Aurora, Ill., left New York on a cargo ship Dec. 1 and arrived in Bossasso, Somalia, in early March.

The port-to-port costs were covered by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Ocean Freight Reimbursement Program, the MannaPacks came from Feed My Starving Children, and the transportation costs of supplies to port were covered by a donation from the Churches of Christ.

“Your assistance through the Kaalo Relief and Development Organization has benefitted more than 7,000 internally displaced persons,” said the Mayor of Garowe, Aziz Nur Elmi. “I would like to highlight that the Garowe community will not forget your help.”

In the past 18 years, Counterpart’s Humanitarian Assistance Program has worked with its network of more than 80 public and private donors to acquire, track and deliver more than $1.2 billion worth of aid to 61 countries.

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