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Somali Crisis Touches MN

August 2, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL - The Twin Cities are home to the largest Somali expatriate community 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 and a Minneapolis native, says the Somali community is now established in the Twin Cities and in a position to help, for a couple of reasons.

"That's their integration and involvement in the Twin Cities, so as a Minnesotan I've watched how the Twin Cities has changed and grown."

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

She 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.

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 - MN