OTTAWA, July 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to assist millions of people affected by drought in the Horn of Africa. Very poor rainfall in the region, estimated to be the worst in 60 years, has destroyed crops and livestock, and caused thousands of families to flee their homes in search of food and clean water.
"The world must not sit back and ignore this crisis," says Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. "It is estimated that over 11 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and the situation is expected to get worse."
The rate of refugees from Somalia arriving in southern Ethiopia has increased from 5,000 a month to more than 30,000 in the second week in June. Almost half the children arriving in Ethiopia from Somalia are malnourished.
"High and increasing food prices, as well as regional conflict are combining with the weather to worsen the food crisis," adds Sauvé. "The primary focus of the Red Cross is saving lives and we are committed to providing live saving support to vulnerable people living in the Horn of Africa."
The Red Cross Movement is working across the Horn of Africa to support affected communities. Already, the Red Cross has deployed 14 mobile health clinics, provided clean water to almost half a million people and distributed over 300 tons of seeds to farmers who have lost crops. The Canadian Red Cross has a disaster response expert in the region supporting the response effort, with more on stand-by if needed.
The needs in the Horn of Africa are significant, and the Red Cross encourages Canadians to donate at www.redcross.ca, call 1-800-418-1111 or contact their local Canadian Red Cross office. The 24-hour toll free line accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Horn of Africa Drought" and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2.
The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and over 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Canadian Red Cross mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.