16 Jul 2011

Government: more money for East Africa drought sufferers

A £52.25m emergency aid package is being put together to help millions of starving people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya hit by Africa’s worst drought in 50 years.

The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, pledged that the money would be used to support the people suffering from the drought.

Mitchell has travelled to Kenya to meet Prime Minister Raila Odinga and said the situation was “getting worse”. He urged the international community to do more to tackle the crisis.

Over £15m has already been donated by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee East Africa appeal launched this week.

Mitchell said: “People across Britain have responded with great generosity to appeals by British NGOs (non-governmental organisations) working in the Horn of Africa.

“But the situation is getting worse – and is particularly devastating in Somalia, where families already have to cope with living in one of the most insecure countries in the world.

“More than 3,000 people every day are fleeing over the borders to Ethiopia and Kenya, many of them arriving with starving children.

“The international community must do more to help not only refugees but also those victims of the drought who remain in Somalia.”

In pictures: Dadaab refugee emergency

Oxfam has welcomed the additional funding but says that while Britain is leading the way with increasing aid, other developed nations needed to follow suit.

A spokesman said:

“There is at least a $700m (£434m) black hole in the aid effort which needs to be filled to save lives and avoid a humanitarian crisis becoming full blown disaster.”

More than 370,000 people are crammed into the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, and the World Food Programme estimates more than 10 million people may be hit by the drought.

The Department for International Development said the money would help 500,000 people in Somalia, including treatment for nearly 70,000 acutely malnourished children.

It will also be used to provide clean drinking water and health care for more than 130,000 people in the Dadaab camps.

In Ethiopia, around 100,000 people in Dolo Ado refugee camps will be helped with access to shelter and clean drinking water as well as targeted treatment of starving children.

The package will also be used to support around 300,000 Kenyans, including special rations to prevent malnutrition in children under the age of five and breastfeeding mothers.

Map of drought area

Refugee camp ‘the size of Bristol’

Justin Forsyth, the chief executive of Save the Children has been to the Dadaab refugee camps which have become a focal point for people fleeing the barren lands in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Forsyth said: “Over the past few days, I’ve seen first hand the enormous suffering the drought is causing in the Dadaab refugee camp and across northern Kenya.

“Families I’ve met are absolutely desperate for food and water, and we know that the situation in Somalia is even worse.

“The UK Government’s extremely welcome announcement, combined with the overwhelming response of the British people, will help save hundreds of thousands of lives threatened by the worst drought in living memory.”

Forsyth said: “There are 400,000 people here in the Dadaab camp.

“It is the size of Bristol and this is just the tip of the iceberg, the levels of severe malnutrition in the region are increasing.”

He also praised the “unbelievable generosity” of the British public for their donations so far:

“This money saves lives but I think we can still do more to help people in East Africa.”

To donate to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, click here, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900 or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.