LONDON (AlertNet) – The plight of more than 10 million drought-stricken people in East Africa has sparked more aid agency appeals for funding, and donor governments have begun mobilising assistance.
Millions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Uganda are in need of humanitarian assistance, with the number growing by the day, the United Nations said.
The U.N. has described the drought as an emergency, one phase before famine. It says it is one of the worst droughts in 60 years, and almost a dozen aid agencies have launched massive appeals.
Aid agency CARE on Monday launched an appeal for $25 million to scale up its response to the growing crisis. The agency said it is already giving emergency assistance to nearly one million people in the region.
"The current crisis builds upon years of consecutive droughts and deteriorating conditions," Barbara Jackson, CARE International’s humanitarian director, said in a statement.
"As livestock have died en masse, pastoralists are losing their main assets and means to survive," Jackson said. "They have nothing left to feed their families."
MASSIVE NEED FOR FUNDS
Donor countries have started mobilising assistance for the drought survivors, with Britain pledging 38 million pounds ($61 million dollars) in food aid to Ethiopia.
Swedish International Development Corporation Minister Gunilla Carlsson announced a 30 million Swedish krona ($4.7 million) contribution to the U.N. Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) work in the region, while Denmark said it will contribute 64 million Danish krone ($12 million) in humanitarian aid to Somalia to help ease the impact of the drought.
The United States, meantime, has deployed a disaster assistance response team, based in Kenya and Ethiopia, to help the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other aid agencies there coordinate emergency aid operations.
UNICEF and UNCHR have already issued separate aid appeals for the region.
UNHCR has appealed for $136.3 million to assist up to 90,000 new Somali refugees in Ethiopia and continue supporting those living in camps in Kenya and Djibouti.
CAMPS SITUATION DIRE
U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres spent Sunday visiting the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where an estimated 1,300 people arrive every day, many of them Somalis, in the already overcrowed camp, thought to be the biggest in the world with a population of some 380,000.
Somali refugees seeking shelter in Kenya from extreme drought and hunger are the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable in the world, Guterres said.
Increasing numbers of malnourished young children are dying after trekking for weeks to receive emergency aid in Kenya in what has become the "worst humanitarian disaster in the world", the U.N. refugee chief said.
"We're in a crisis right now," Allison Oman, UNHCR's senior regional nutrition and food security officer told reporters at the camp. "We need extraordinary measures to help."
UNICEF, meanwhile, is asking for $32 million for the next three months, which will allow it to help millions of women and children in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
WFP said it needed $477 million to see it through the crisis and help around 6 million people in the region.
As yet, U.N. agencies and their aid agency partners have not issued a joint appeal for the emergency.
Other aid agencies have also stepped up their humanitarian response, with the International Medical Corps expanding its programmes in East Africa and deploying an emergency response team in Somalia.
Medecins Sans Frontieres has stepped up its therapeutic feeding programmes, while Oxfam International has launched a cash-for-work programme in Kenya, along with four other international non-governmental organisations.
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