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Three million East Africans could die of hunger without urgent help, says aid agency

22 July 2022

ALAMY

The dried up Jubba river in Dollow, Jubaland, on the border with Ethiopia, in April

The dried up Jubba river in Dollow, Jubaland, on the border with Ethiopia, in April

THREE million people in East Africa may die of hunger unless they receive urgent international help, the aid and development agency the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has warned.

Every day of inaction by other governments is a matter of life or death for people in the worst-affected counties, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, the IRC said, as it put out a crisis alert for the region.

East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, after four failed rainy seasons. Millions of people have left their homes in search of food and water. Food prices have risen dramatically, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which is causing a shortage of grain.

About seven million livestock have died in recent months in the region, and 20 million people are expected to go hungry by the end of the year, half of them children.

The cost of the average basket of food has jumped by two-thirds in Ethiopia, and by more than one third in Somalia. Ninety per cent of wheat imported to East Africa comes from Ukraine and Russia.

Christian Aid launched its own appeal this week to help people on the brink of famine. Working though local partners, it is helping to repair wells, providing money, and transporting water into drought-affected communities, besides providing food and medicines for livestock.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 18.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia are already missing meals because of the crisis.

The country director for Christian Aid Ethiopia, Yitna Tekaligne, warned that “millions are taking desperate measures to survive in the face of failed harvests, livestock deaths, water shortages, and extreme hunger.

“The severe conditions are being made worse by the climate crisis and Covid, and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused global food prices to rocket. A tough situation has now turned into a dire crisis.”

Christian Aid has urged the UK to speed up its promise of funding for the region. About £100 million has been promised so far.

Karimi Kinoti, who is based in Kenya, said: “The response to humanitarian needs in Ukraine has been remarkable. The UK Government must now live up to its moral responsibility and urgently act in that same spirit for East Africa. Every day that we delay will make it more difficult to avoid tragedy.”

A £15 donation to Christian Aid’s appeal could provide seeds and farming tools for one household; £30 would buy water hygiene kits to provide clean drinking water for six families; and £50 would supply food for a household of five, the charity said.

christianaid.org.uk

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