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Aid agencies seek urgent help to counter Africa's worst drought in decades

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are close to yet another famine, after their driest period in around 60 years.

Somalis wait outside a building as they wait to go to an internally displaced camp in Mogadishu.
Somalis wait outside a building as they wait to go to an internally displaced camp in Mogadishu.
Image: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

HUMANITARIAN AID AGENCIES have issued urgent appeals for help in sending food to the Horn of Africa after the region experienced its worst droughts for around 60 years.

The driest period in decades in the region – which includes the vulnerable countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – has coincided with violence in the latter country, leaving a level of malnutrition threatening a “human tragedy of unimaginable proportions”.

Such is the urgency of the situation that some children are dying while on their way to receive emergency food supplies from United Nations camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, the BBC quoted a UN spokeswoman as saying.

One camp in the northern Kenyan city of Dabaab, which was originally built to house a maximum of 90,000 people, is in danger of reaching a population of half a million, the Daily Telegraph added, as the following video from Medicins sans Frontieres testifies:


Half of children in Somalia, and over 30 per cent of children in Kenya, are facing serious malnourishment as a result of the extreme weather conditions.

Trócaire’s warned that the deteriorating situation could have “catastrophic consequences”: Maurice McQuillan said the current malnutrition rates were up to five times higher than the threshold that usually indicates an ‘emergency’.

Oxfam Ireland’s chief executive Jim Clarken added that the situation would also cause an economic crisis, as the sole source of income for many – farm animals – were also dying as a result of malnutrition.

“The world’s poorest people, who spend 80 per cent of their income on food, are the ones who will suffer,” Clarken said.

Donations to Trocaire can be made through its website, www.trocaire.org, or by phoning 1850 408 408 (RoI) or 0800 912 1200 (NI). Donations to Oxfam Ireland can be made through www.oxfamireland.org or by calling 1850 30 40 55 (RoI) or 0800 0 30 40 55 (NI). The Medecins sans Frontieres Somalia appeal page is at www.msf.ie/somalia-appeal. Go to www.goal.ie to find out how to donate there.

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Gavan Reilly

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