National, local relief efforts underway for East Africa famine and drought
Published Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:55AM CST
Thousands of people have already died in drought-ravaged East Africa. Winnipeggers are showing an incredible effort to help, but there is still a big gap between donations and the tremendous need.
Adan Arta is a Somalian refugee who arrived in Winnipeg last month with his young family. He was forced to leave his parents behind, and worries they won't survive.
"Every day I call them and they say ‘we have no food, we have no money,'" he said.
An estimated 11.3 million people are at risk in East Africa and things are getting worse.
Without any significant rainfall for over two years, people in the region are experiencing crop failure, loss of livestock and acute malnutrition, resulting in the migration of hundreds of thousands of people.
This has led to a humanitarian crisis, which many experts forecast will extend into the next year. The United Nations upgraded the level of humanitarian emergency in parts of Somalia, officially recognizing the crisis as a famine.
Winnpeg's Manitoba Islamic Association (MIA) hosted a fundraiser and bake sale Sunday that brought in $35,000 in just 30 minutes.
"Our brothers and sisters on a humanitarian basis need help, and we will sacrifice everything we have for them," said Naseer Warraich, of the MIA.
On Sunday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called on more Canadians to help, after making his own personal donation to World Vision.
Ottawa will match every dollar donated by Canadians to eligible registered Canadian charities, through their newly announced East Africa Drought Relief Fund.
But some say money isn't enough.
Wanda Yamamoto works for the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and helps settle refugees in Winnipeg. She wants the government to fast-track all East African refugee applications, before people die on the waiting list.
"It's a life and death situation. We have children dying on a daily basis, adults dying on a daily basis to make sure their children are fed," she said.
Donations can be made to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the Manitoba Islamic Association and the Canadian Red Cross.
-- with a report from CTV's Jeremy Hunka
-- with files from the Canadian Press
Adam Arta and his family worry about those they left behind in famine-plagued Somalia.