News of the devastation in Somalia continues to grow with each passing day.
A crippling drought, the worst in six decades. Ravaging famine, killing Somali children in droves and spreading disease through the southern region of the country. Bloody civil war, raging between rival warlords for the past 20 years and displacing hundreds of thousands of families. All across Somalia, refugee camps overflow with those fleeing the capital and other unsafe areas, but are poorly equipped and slowly dwindling in food supplies. Militant groups, especially Al-Shabaab restrict the arrival of much-needed medical support.
Students for Somalia, a student-run fundraising group through the UAA Psychology Department, would like to help combat these troubling realities. Supervised by psychology doctoral candidates Rebecca Robinson and Lisa Wade, the students are organizing two fundraising events to benefit the ravaged country.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, one group of students will be running a bake sale and information booth at the Student Union, handing out flyers and raising awareness toward the plight in Somalia. On Nov. 30, the second group will be holding a fundraiser at the Anchor Pub on 4th Avenue, selling t-shirts to the 21-and-older crowd.
Nick Anderson, a 22-year-old psychology major, is quite optimistic for the turnout of these fundraisers.
“The situation in Somalia is a crisis I think everyone responds to,” Anderson said. “We’ve got a very active community here in Anchorage.”
All proceeds collected from these events will be given to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiéres), an international humanitarian organization dedicated to providing medical treatment and protection to the ravaged areas of Somalia and its fleeing refugees. The organization’s primary agenda is to assist those in need; it remains neutral in all armed conflicts and operates outside of any political, military, or religious undertakings.
“A lot of these nonprofit organizations can’t get inside Somalia to help the refugees out, and so things continue to worsen,” said Anderson. “But Doctors Without Borders is the one group able to get out on the ground and deliver much needed aid to these people. They’re definitely the organization to support.”
Doctors Without Borders has been working in Somalia since the outset of the civil war in 1991, but with the severe recent draught and famine increase, their efforts have hit a definite wall. A deadly combination of measles and malnutrition has struck Southern and Middle Somalia, and recent violent outbursts have hindered medical support to the area.
“In several parts of Somalia, this is the worst situation we’ve seen in the past decade,” said Doctors Without Borders Project Operator Joe Belliveau. “Normal coping mechanisms are exhausted and many people have reached their limits.” W.
Students for Somalia will be running the Student Union bake sale and information booth on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their fundraiser at the Anchor Pub will take place on Nov. 30 from 9 p.m. to midnight.