Appeal by Western Somali Red Crescent Society

Continuous wars for the last two decades have brought the Western Somali people unprecedented suffering. Victims of the Ethiopian regime's repressive measures including massacre, robbery, torture, indefinite detention without trial and denial of basic human rights, hundreds of thousands of Western Somalis have been forced to abandon their homeland to live as refugees in neighboring countries. Others remain displaced inside Ethiopia, living in precarious conditions.

The severe drought that currently prevails in Western Somaliland has worsened the refugees' situation. For months, Somali refugee camps have suffered from food shortages. Since the 1977 liberation war, 700,000 people have lived at these camps, comprising one of Africa's largest concentrations of refugees. Thousands will starve to death unless emergency food and medicines arrive soon. The recent hijack of food aid by Ethiopian authorities and the prevention of a plane carrying medical supplies is proof that the Addis Ababa government is exploiting the famine situation for its political ends.

Aid workers are also bitter. The world, it seems, has lost interest in the refugees in Somalia. "For several months now, the international community has been concentrating on Ethiopia, while the Western Somali refugees in Somalia are neglected," says Belmut Langechwert, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Hargeisa, northern Somalia. Continuing forays by the colonial army of Ethiopia and increasing guerrilla retaliation by the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), however, promises streams of refugees in the coming months. Any return of refugees to their homeland is out of the question for the foreseeable future. Besides the drought, malnutrition and starvation, cholera has claimed the lives of many people.

The WSRCS is the only relief organization in the country that functions as a bridge between the needy people in Western Somaliland and the international humanitarian organizations. It is doing all it can do to alleviate the sufferings of the Western Somali people. But its means are limited. International solidarity is imperative.

The Western Somali Red Crescent Society hereby appeals to all humanitarian organizations and the international community to participate actively to save the Western Somali people from the atrocities of war, drought, and cholera. Medicines, food, clothing, tents and means of transportation are urgently needed. All aid can be addressed to: Western Somali Red Crescent Society, P.O. Box 6448, Mogadishu, Somalia.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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