Local groups raise funds to battle famine in Somalia

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August 1, 2011 // UPDATED 2:52 pm - August 3, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss

Late last month, the United Nations declared a famine in drought-stricken southern Somalia, the first time the agency declared a famine in the 20 years since a drought last struck Somalia. Conditions in Somalia have been described as devastating, with dehydration and disease running rampant and food prices skyrocketing.

Minneapolis-based aid organizations and corporations are doing what they can to help.

The American Refugee Committee (ARC) and American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA), both based in Minneapolis, are calling on residents to pitch in and help. “The conditions are pretty dire,” said Therese Gales of the ARC. “Children are literally dying in their mothers arms.”

Minneapolis-based General Mills has pledged up to $100,000 to the ARC for famine relief. An initial donation of $50,000 has already been made, with another $50,000 available to match contributions by other corporations.

“As a food company in the metro area with the largest Somali population, General Mills is uniquely positioned to do one of the things we do best, which is provide hunger relief to children and their families,” said Ellen Goldberg Luger, vice president and General Mills Foundation executive director in a statement. “As the famine in Somalia reaches historic proportions, we encourage other Minnesota companies to support the critical relief work being done by the American Refugee Committee to address this devastating crisis.”

Before last month’s concert at TCF Bank Stadium, U2 frontman and co-founder of the anti-poverty group ONE met with local Somali leaders about the famine. In a statement, he called on everyone to help. “The crisis in the Horn is going to be solved by Somalis taking control, taking charge. I’m here, and ONE is here, to listen and learn and to serve their efforts,” said Bono. “We’re here to sound the alarm bell in the United States, where there has been very little media coverage of the food crisis -- and now a famine which is threatening the lives and livelihoods of 12 million. This is monstrous.  Pay close attention, this is a defining moment for the world.  History will be very harsh if we don’t move quickly.”

Donations to famine relief can be made to the American Refugee Committee, 430 Oak Grove Street, Suite 204, or at www.ARCrelief.org.

ARAHA is taking donations at ARAHA, 2111 Central Avenue NE, or at www.araha.org.