Jul 29, 2011
Somali men and women carrying their sick and malnourished children wait outside a medical clinic. UN Photo/Stuart Price
New York/Geneva -The United Nations today appealed for a further $1.4 billion dollars to provide life-saving assistance to more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa.
In a new regional overview, the UN warned that the famine in two regions of Somalia could spread throughout the rest of the south within 1-2 months, if the humanitarian response did not increase in line with rising needs.
Thousands of Somalis continue to flee across the border to Ethiopia and Kenya every day, driven out by the worst drought in sixty years, soaring food prices and continued fighting. Aid agencies have been denied access to the most affected areas.
Women and children are forced to walk weeks under gruelling conditions to reach safety, and are arriving in refugee camps in appalling health, overwhelming the already stretched capacity to respond.
Drought conditions in Kenya’s northern and north-eastern districts have deteriorated further after the poor performance of the March-June long rains. The food crisis is expected to peak in August and September.
In Ethiopia, prolonged La Niña conditions have affected two consecutive rainy seasons, resulting in rapidly deteriorating food security in the drought-affected lowlands of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, as well as in parts of the central highlands.
And in Djibouti, the drought has forced growing numbers of pastoralists and people in rural areas to migrate to urban areas, where food insecurity is rising due to high levels of unemployment and rising food prices.
The emergency is expected to persist for at least three to four months, and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance could increase by as much as 25 per cent.
“More than twelve million people - in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti - are in dire need of help, and the situation is getting worse,” said Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos. “If we are to avoid this crisis becoming an even bigger catastrophe, we must act now.”