UN agency calls for urgent aid as millions face starvation in the Horn of Africa

6 January 2006

Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa because of droughts and conflict, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today, as it called for urgent humanitarian assistance for the impoverished region.

Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa because of droughts and conflict, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today, as it called for urgent humanitarian assistance for the impoverished region.

“In Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia more than 11 million people are estimated to be in need of assistance,” the Rome-based agency said, adding that the food shortages were “particularly grave” in Somalia where about 2 million people need help.

People in strife-torn Somalia live in extremely poor conditions. The FAO said those worst affected live in the south of the country where pastoral communities face acute food and livelihood crises due to severe drought.

“Immediate response” is needed to a World Food Programme (WFP) appeal calling for about 64,000 tons of food aid until the first six months of this year in order to avert possible hunger-related deaths in southern Somalia, the FAO warned.

Droughts have also affected Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia leading to food shortages that in Djibouti’s case have hit an estimated one fifth of its population.

In Ethiopia, despite an expected favourable harvest, the FAO said that more than $40 million in assistance was “urgently required” to stave off starvation and noted that the dry season -- from January to March -- was expected to make things worse.

“In view of the good domestic grain production in Ethiopia, local purchases for food aid by both the government and donors are highly recommended to support domestic markets,” FAO said.

 

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