Somalia: Will the U.S. stand by as famine looms in Somalia?
"The drought has gotten so bad that we have seen camels dying of thirst," recounted a Mercy Corps colleague during my recent visit to Somalia. While crises in Sudan, Libya and Japan may get the headlines, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today -- by a long shot -- is taking place in the Horn of Africa. Experts in the region say that the drought is the worst the Horn has seen since the 1950s. The U.N. estimates that more than 10 million people face severe food shortfalls.
Indonesia: New Indonesia law: Allow breastfeeding, or face punishment
In the United States, the breast milk versus formula debate tends to center on what works best for the mom and what is most nutritious for the baby. In many impoverished parts of the developing world, the stakes are even higher -- and breastfeeding can be a matter of life or death.
Japan: Three months after the twin tragedies hit Japan
Anchor Marco Werman gets an update from Mercy Corps’ Malka Older on how communities in northeast Japan are coping three months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the region. Older has been working in Japan since the quake hit.
Indonesia: In ‘food deserts,’ oases of nutrition
Poor urban neighborhoods in America are often food deserts — places where it is difficult to find fresh food. There are few grocery stores; people may do all their shopping at bodegas, where the only available produce and meat are canned peaches and Spam. If they want fruits and vegetables and chicken and fish, they have to take a bus to a grocery store. The lack of fresh food creates a vicious cycle; children grow up never seeing it or acquiring a taste for it. It is one reason that the poor are likelier to be obese than the rich.
Libya: Q&A: Mercy Corps takes on role in Libyan evacuation
Misrata is the last major rebel foothold in western Libya. Wednesday, two western photojournalists were killed there. And the city has lost hundreds of residents to combat. Many people are being evacuated from Misrata -- among them, non-Libyans who've been working in the country. The International Organization of Migration is helping workers from Ghana, Niger, the Philippines and elsewhere, return to their home countries. And Portland-based Mercy Corps has been providing logistical support.
To Japan quake survivors, temporary homes feel like heaven
Reporting from Rikuzentakata, Japan—For Mika Terui, unit 5-2 of this devastated community's newest housing complex was home, finally home. The 39-year-old mother of three felt like one of the luckiest survivors of the magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that killed thousands of people and left many others homeless or languishing in evacuation centers.
North Korea: North Korea's pleas for food aid draw suspicion
The United Nations is warning that 6 million North Koreans — a quarter of the population — could be at risk of starvation. It's warning of a likely humanitarian crisis, with North Korea's public distribution system set to run out of food in May. North Korean food shortages are no longer news, but this year Pyongyang has made unusually public pleas for food aid, raising fears as well as suspicions. In North Korea, from May until July is called the "lean season." This year they're already using other Orwellian euphemisms, too, like "alternative food."
Scale of destruction startles Mercy Corps and Peace Winds officials
TOKYO — As chief executive of Portland-based Mercy Corps, Neal Keny-Guyer has seen epic destruction, suffering and recovery in disasters and wars around the globe. But the veteran aid manager struggled Monday to describe the enormity of Japan’s devastation and the challenge of responding to the triple calamities rocking this traumatized nation.
Woes could linger for Japan's jobless
Long lines have formed at the town hall of this coastal community as residents look for government aid and access to working phones while relief workers queue up for their orders. This week, a new line formed: people looking for jobs. When an earthquake and tsunami rocked this region of Japan this month, it not only killed more than 11,000 and left more than 16,200 missing; it also left potentially hundreds of thousands of people jobless or unable to reach those workplaces that have even reopened.
Q&A: Mercy Corps aid worker shares observations from trip to Japan
Joy Portella, the Seattle-based communications director for Mercy Corps, has been in Japan since March 22. She spent the last four days in hard-hit communities, including Kesennuma on the northeast coast of the island of Honshu. Mercy Corps has about a half dozen staffers in Japan and is working on aid efforts with its Japanese partner, Peace Winds. In a Monday afternoon telephone interview with Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton, she offered these observations of the situation: Q: Is relief aid making it through to people in the areas you visited?