£6m raised for east Africa appeal

The UK charity appeal to help people affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa has already raised £6m.

A group of UK aid agencies launched the fundraising appeal with a series of TV and radio broadcasts on Friday.

Thousands of families in desperate need of food and water have trekked for days from Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

The drought is the worst in east Africa for 60 years. The UN described it as a “humanitarian emergency”.

Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee said the public had responded with “overwhelming generosity to a massive ongoing crisis which is already beginning to claim lives.

“As this vital fundraising continues, together we can help families at risk to survive and start rebuilding their lives.”

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal was first broadcast by the BBC on Friday.

Continue reading the main story DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agenciesParticipants in the appeal include ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World VisionTo make a donation call 0370 60 60 900 (charged at national rate) or post a donation to PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AAComedian Lenny Henry fronted the BBC TV appeal while broadcaster Kate Adie voiced a radio version.

The British public donated more than £1m to individual charities even before the DEC appeal was launched.

Save the Children had received £560,000, Oxfam £277,000 and the Red Cross £150,000.

DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said thousands of destitute people were on the move into Kenya and Ethiopia.

More than 1,300 people a day were arriving in the Dadaab camp, already thought to be the world’s largest with a population of 350,000.

A similar number are crossing into Ethiopia.

Many of those reaching the camps are severely malnourished children, some of whom have died soon after arriving.

‘Preventing tragedy’

Mr Gormley said: “Slowly but surely, these people have seen their lives fall apart – crops, livestock and now their homes have been taken by the drought.”

“They’ve been left with no alternative but to seek shelter and life-saving help elsewhere.

“We have a duty to help quickly before the situation spirals out of control.”

Continue reading the main story Extended drought is causing a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Weather conditions over the Pacific means the rains have failed for two seasons and are unlikely to return until September. Food shortages are affecting up to 12 million people. The UN has not declared a famine but large areas of the region are now classified as in crisis or emergency, with malnutrition affecting up to 35-40% of children under five. The humanitarian problem is made worse by ongoing conflicts, which means that until July militant groups had only allowed aid organisations limited access to large parts of southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. Since the beginning of 2011, around 15,000 Somalis each month have fled into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia looking for food and water. The refugee camp at Dadaab, in Kenya, has been overwhelmed by 370,000 people. Farmers unable to meet their basic food costs are abandoning their herds. High cereal and fuel prices had already forced them to sell many animals before the drought and their smaller herds are now unprofitable or dying. The refugee problem may have been preventable. However, violent conflict in the region has deterred international investment in long-term development programmes, which may have reduced the effects of the drought. Development aid would focus on reducing deforestation, topsoil erosion and overgrazing and improving water conservation. New roads and infrastructure for markets would help farmers increase their profits. The result of climate conditions, conflict and lack of investment is that 6.7 million people in Kenya and Ethiopia are currently existing on food rations, and relief agencies estimate 2.6 million in Somalia will need assistance a new emergency operation. BACK {current} of {total} NEXT The UK has pledged £38m in food aid to drought-hit Ethiopia – enough to feed 1.3 million people for three months.

The DEC appeal will help people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan, which officially separated from the Republic of Sudan on Saturday.

Mr Gormley said: “Of course these people need a long-term solution with investment and political will – but right now it’s about preventing a tragedy.”

Aid agencies, including the Kenyan Red Cross, the Somali Red Crescent and Action Aid, are being helped by local groups to access remote areas with food, water and medical treatment.

UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell welcomed the appeal launch.

He said: “Through no fault of its own, the Horn of Africa is experiencing a severe drought caused by the failed rains.

“The British government is already providing vital food to help 1.3 million people – but more needs to be done and we are lobbying other governments to do their bit.

“We welcome the DEC appeal to help the 10 million men, women and children caught up in the crisis.

“British charities and organisations are on the ground and ready to help, but need this additional support to get emergency supplies to those in desperate need.”

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