As the world marks International Humanitarian Day on August 19, CARE International salutes all of its humanitarian aid workers around the globe, many of whom work under extremely difficult conditions to help people in need, such as currently in the Horn of Africa. In Dadaab, Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp, CARE’s emergency response is assisted by refugees, many of whom have lived in Dadaab for most of their lives. One of these over 1,600 refugee aid workers, Fatuma Adan Mohammed, helps women who have experienced violence or rape during their flight from Somalia. “I came as a refugee, but today I am both a refugee and a humanitarian aid worker”, she says. “There are now more than 400,000 refugees here, like me. The camp was built for 90,000 people. Because I am a refugee, the borders of this camp city are also the borders of my world.” Fatuma Adan Mohammed has no Kenyan identification card and is not free to go anywhere without permission other than back to war-torn Somalia.
“Without the help of Fatuma and others like her, CARE would not be able to deliver food, water and other services to the daily growing refugee population in Dadaab. Together with our local staff, the refugees themselves are the courageous individuals who form the backbone of our work”, says Barbara Jackson, CARE’s Humanitarian Director. Fatuma Adan Mohammed hopes that one day, she can leave the camp. But she stays dedicated to her work with CARE: “As a humanitarian worker, I will continue to do what I can to help other refugees. So they can look back and remember that they were welcomed and given help when they needed it most. That after the horrible experiences they went through to get to Dadaab, they realize that kindness can come from strangers.”
CARE employs 11,300 people worldwide and the large majority, 97 percent, are local staff. “They know their country intimately, they speak at least two if nor more of the local languages and very often they work in remote areas, far away from their families, facing security threats and attacks”, says Barbara Jackson, CARE’s Humanitarian Director. “I am in awe of their dedication and commitment to assist their neighbors and communities worldwide. Whether it is our engineers, drivers, nurses, finance managers, project managers or administrative assistants; everyone works their part to ensure that CARE’s projects are running so that we can serve people suffering in times of crisis and to help communities overcome poverty.”
Chronic poverty, conflict, high food prices and a severe drought have led to the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa, the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today. CARE staff in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are scaling up their work to help two million people with much needed food, water and emergency supplies.