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Somali Crisis Touches OH

August 2, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Columbus is home to one of the largest Somali expatriate communities in the United States, and as the famine deepens in the Horn of Africa they are mobilizing to help. Oxfam says severe drought and the world's worst food crisis has put 12 million people in desperate need of assistance.

Semhar Araia, the Horn of Africa regional policy advisor for Oxfam America, says the Somali community is now established in places like Minneapolis and Columbus.

"Other cities that are close in numbers are also in Ohio, in Columbus, Ohio I believe, but the Twin Cities holds the highest number of Somalis in the United States."

Araia says the Somali community in Columbus has started to organize community meetings and other outreach activities to draw attention to the growing human tragedy in Somalia.

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

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

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

Semhar Araia says the best way for people to help is to donate to recognized agencies that can get aid to those suffering.

More information can be found at www.oxfamamerica.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - OH