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Somali Crisis Touches MI

August 1, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan is home to a sizable Somali expatriate community, and as the famine deepens in the Horn of Africa, many are mobilizing to help. According to the worldwide humanitarian agency Oxfam, severe drought and the world's worst food crisis has put 12 million people in desperate need of assistance.

Semhar Araia is the Horn of Africa regional policy advisor for Oxfam America. She says the Somali community is now established in places like metro Detroit, the Lansing area and west Michigan, as well as other Midwestern cities such as Columbus, Ohio, and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

"I am starting to hear trickles of the communities coming together for fundraisers and organizing meetings."

Araia says many of these Somali communities are now activating to draw attention to the human tragedy growing in Somalia. The best way for people in Michigan to help is to donate to recognized agencies that can get aid to those suffering, she adds.

Oxfam is now responding to the crisis by providing life-saving water, sanitation services and food, but that takes a lot of money, Araia says.

"The best thing people can do is donate money and support the good work of organizations on the ground that are providing life-saving assistance."

The United Nations estimates that $1 billion is needed to stave off a major humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia.

More information is available at

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - MI