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Mercy Corps working to bring critical assistance to Somali families in Mogadishu

Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, August 18, 2011

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PORTLAND, Ore. – The global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps is working to bring desperately needed aid to displaced families in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The group recently completed an assessment of needs in the city and is working to provide clean water, health assistance and other vital supplies in the coming days.

“Mogadishu looks like one big displacement camp,” said Mercy Corps Team Member Cassandra Nelson, who participated in the assessment. “People are flooding into the city from other areas of Somalia because Mogadishu has become more stable. The city is calm but families coming in have nothing, and malnourished children are everywhere. There is a cholera epidemic now and a growing number of measles cases, making matters even worse.”

The Mercy Corps team will work to provide clean water, health assistance, shelter, hygiene services and other basics like household utensils to people in Mogadishu.

The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have fled to Mogadishu in the past two months looking for food and water, further straining a city filled with displaced families. The World Health Organization has stated that there is now a cholera epidemic due to unsanitary conditions in the camps and limited access to clean water.

The Mogadishu response builds on Mercy Corps’ extensive work throughout the Horn of Africa. The group is bringing water, food and income to more than one million people who have been impacted by the drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya. Mercy Corps teams are primarily intervening in villages and towns to keep people from fleeing to camps in desperation.

More than 12 million people are at risk as the Horn of Africa suffers from the worst drought in 60 years, and the UN estimates that 600,000 children may face starvation. The UN has also declared five areas of Somalia to be suffering from famine. The region’s drought crisis has been growing steadily for months after two failed rainy seasons; in some places, it has not rained significantly in three years.