Donations from the UK public to the emergency appeal for people suffering from severe food shortages in East Africa have now exceeded £15 million.
The worst drought in 60 years has devastated cattle and crops in parts of East Africa, creating a humanitarian emergency, with problems expected to be compounded by a poor harvest.
More than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan have been left in need of food, water and emergency healthcare.
Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee Brendan Gormley said: “Desperation has forced thousands to leave their homes to seek help in the towns or camps, but some of the most vulnerable have been unable to make the long and arduous journey. Children and older people with weakened immune systems are often not strong enough to reach our agencies to access the care they desperately need. In some areas of Borana in Ethiopia for example, aid agencies report that the proportion of older people has risen from around five per cent to up to half the population.”
“The more money we raise, the more lives we can save in the short term, and the more help we can give people to rebuild their lives in the long term. It’s vital that people keep giving,” he added.
Acute malnutrition has reached 37 per cent in some parts of north-east Kenya, more than double the 15 per cent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Refugees are dying of causes related to malnutrition, either during the journey or very shortly after arrival at aid camps.
In Kenya, more than 1,400 people a day, eighty per cent of whom are women and children, continue to arrive in the Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia. Many arrive after days or weeks of walking.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee Somalia due to the drought and conflict. Rising food prices, even in cities and towns, across the region have also added to the food crisis. Many families have been left unable to afford even one proper meal.
The DEC East Africa Appeal in Britain has been presented by actors Jason Isaacs and Fay Ripley, actor and comedian Lenny Henry and broadcaster and journalist Kate Adie.
* To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.