Britons give £37m to help starving in East Africa

The British public has donated £37m to help drought victims in East Africa.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which represents the 14 leading UK aid agencies, said the generosity was “making a big difference” to those affected by the region’s worst drought for 60 years.

Its East Africa Appeal was set up earlier this month to help more than 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan who are in urgent need of food, water and emergency healthcare.

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News of its total raised so far, however, came as the UN appealed for a futher $1.4bn on top of the $1bn already received to alleviate the crisis.

DEC Chief executive Brendan Gormley said: “The money that has been given is already making a big difference for many thousands of people but there is a huge amount of work still to be done.”

“More than 12 million people – in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti – are in dire need of help, and the situation is getting worse,” said Valerie Amos, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which issued today’s appeal.

“If we are to avoid this crisis becoming an even bigger catastrophe, we must act now.”

The emergency is expected to persist for at least three to four months, and the number of people needing help could rise by as much as 25 per cent, OCHA said.

It reports that, driven by the worst drought in 60 years, some 1,300 new Somali refugees arrive daily in Kenya, several hundred more flee to Ethiopia and at least 1,000 others crowd into the capital, Mogadishu, fleeing not only drought but continuing civil war.

The agency also said outright famine, declared recently in two areas of southern Somalia, “could spread throughout the rest of the south within one or two months.”

Drought conditions in Kenya’s northern and north-eastern districts have also deteriorated further after the poor rains.

To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.