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On anniversary of Somali famine, Islamic Relief welcomes ‘double donations’ boost from UK Government

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“The Government will match the public donations we receive pound for pound up to £5 million, which means that our supporters can double their donations and we can double the impact of our work to support poor communities and lift people out of poverty.” - Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief’s UK Director

• DFID to match UK public donations to 2012 Ramadan appeal pound for pound, up to £5 million
• Announcement coincides with start of Ramadan and first anniversary of Somali famine
• Spokespeople available with firsthand experience of our famine response in Somalia

A year ago Islamic Relief was in the forefront of responding to the first famine of the 21st century in Somalia. It was one of the few international agencies able to distribute aid on both sides of the conflict, boosted by generous public donations during its annual Ramadan appeal. One year on, the situation in Somali remains very serious with 1.3 million people still living in camps because they don’t have the means to return home or it is unsafe to do so (see notes to editors for more info).

Islamic Relief is marking the anniversary by drawing attention to the continuing crisis in Somalia and launching its latest Ramadan appeal with news of an exciting ‘double your donations’ boost from the UK Government. “We are delighted to announce support from the Department for International Development’s UK Aid Match scheme for our Ramadan appeal,” says Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief’s UK Director. “The Government will match the public donations we receive pound for pound up to £5 million, which means that our supporters can double their donations and we can double the impact of our work to support poor communities and lift people out of poverty.”

Islamic Relief will use the funds from this year’s Ramadan appeal to support a wide range of projects around the world, with a particular emphasis on strengthening communities to resist the impact of climate change. Droughts, floods and food crises are becoming more frequent and severe as climate change bites, and it is countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that are suffering most.

"As we saw during the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 and 2011, natural disasters can have a catastrophic impact on the lives and livelihoods of poor communities in the developing world,” says Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development. “Helping communities to prepare for the effects of climate change is fundamental to securing a safer future for them. The British Government is pleased to support Islamic Relief's Ramadan appeal by matching public donations pound for pound, doubling the impact of projects to strengthen community resilience to climate change."

For more information, photographs or footage - or to arrange an interview with a local or national representative of Islamic Relief – please contact Martin Cottingham (07974-109914 / martin.cottingham@islamic-relief.org.uk) or Safiya Sayed Baharun (07872-403534 / Safiya.baharun@islamic-relief.org.uk).

NOTES TO EDITORS

Somalia: a crisis still

At the peak of last year’s emergency, Islamic Relief was distributing emergency food packs to 180,000 people each month and trucking water to 120,000 people daily – a life-saving operation when so many aid agencies could not reach those most in need.

Last month the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said the food situation is improving in the north of the country but it reported below-average rainfall and predicted poor harvests in the southern areas hardest hit by last year’s famine. According to the FSNAU, the health situation has deteriorated since January and malnutrition remains a ‘very critical’ problem in most of the south. In 2012 Islamic Relief Somalia has:

• Provided food aid to 290,000 people and emergency water supplies to 85,000
• Drilled 20 new boreholes, providing a clean water supply to 120,000 people
• Treated 62,000 people through mobile clinics
• Run 50 makeshift schools for 35,000 children living in camps
• Provided high-protein supplements for 120,000 malnourished children
• Provided new animals to 12,000 families whose cattle died in the drought
• Built 2,000 latrines serving a total population of 50,000 in displaced people’s camps.

Transforming lives

Islamic Relief’s advertising campaign for Ramadan features films showing that everyday poverty is as urgent a priority for donations as any high-profile natural disaster – and that supporting Islamic Relief can transform people’s lives. For example Tahirun, 55, who lives in the slums of Rangpur in Bangladesh, used to beg for food from door to door. Now, thanks to Islamic Relief, she gives food to others less fortunate. She has three goats, some chickens and a share of a field where she is growing crops with 30 other women. The Ramadan campaign includes success stories from Gaza and Indonesia too. All emphasise that Islamic Relief is there for the long haul, not just when disaster strikes. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Indonesia, where the charity is still supporting eight-year-old Reza, orphaned by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Being prepared saves lives and money

The experience of Bangladesh shows the benefit of preparing for climate-related emergencies rather than just picking up the pieces when disaster strikes. When Cyclone Sidr struck in 2007, millions of people were already in shelters or had been evacuated under improved disaster plans. Around 4,000 people died, compared to 140,000 in a cyclone of similar intensity in 1991. When Mozambique asked the international community for £2 million in 2006 to help prepare for floods, its pleas went unheard. After the floods struck, the international community spent £60 million on its response.

Ramadan: a blessed month

The holy month of Ramadan is a time when most Muslims choose to give zakat, honouring their religious obligation to give to charity. Islamic Relief receives around a third of its annual income in the UK during Ramadan – and hopes UK Aid Match funding will boost this still further. Last year’s Ramadan appeal raised £9 million in the UK, including £4.1 million earmarked for East Africa. In 2011 300 dinners, collections and other events in the UK raised money for Islamic Relief during Ramadan.

UK Aid Match

UK Aid Match is the British Government’s scheme to give the public a say in how a portion of the aid budget is spent by matching public donations to charity appeals for projects to reduce poverty in developing countries. UK Aid Match was launched in June 2011 and has committed to match funding 13 appeals. Further details at www.dfid.gov.uk