With catastrophe looming over Horn of Africa UN agency calls for urgent

With many children in the Horn of Africa eating only one meal each day and livestock dying in large numbers, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urged donors to provide immediate food aid for 5.4 million people to head off a humanitarian catastrophe in the drought-stricken region.The estimated numbers of people hit by drought are: 2.5 million in Kenya, 1.4 million in Somalia, 1.5 million in Ethiopia and 60,000 in Djibouti, the agency said. Last week, the UN aid agency estimated that more than 11 million people are in need of assistance, with food shortages “particularly grave” in Somalia where about 2 million people need help. “In all four countries, it is clear that WFP will have to expand its existing operations to drought-affected populations in order to address the increasing needs,” said Holdbrook Arthur, WFP Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, speaking in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. “While final figures on the number of people in need of urgent assistance are still being established, donors must respond now if we are going to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” he stressed.In mid-2005, concerns over the deteriorating food security situation in the region led WFP to undertake, in partnership with other concerned partners, a comprehensive review of the food situation among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa. As a result, WFP is establishing a long term, well-coordinated and integrated early warning system, while it aims to enhance coping strategies, diversify income generation and livelihood activities and strengthen governance to support “The emergency we face in the Horn today is the result of successive seasons of failed rains. Consequently, pastoralists living in these arid, remote lands have very few survival strategies left and desperately require our assistance to make it through until the next rains,” said Mr. Arthur.

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