UK pledges £52.25m in aid for drought-hit Horn of Africa

A market in Ethiopia The money will help drought-hit areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya

The UK is to give £52m in emergency aid to help millions of drought victims in the Horn of Africa.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who is visiting Kenya, said the money would be used there, as well as in Somalia and Ethiopia.

The World Food Programme estimates 10 million people are affected by the worst drought in over half a century.

Mr Mitchell said the situation was "getting worse" and urged the international community to do more.

The Dadaab camp in Kenya is overflowing with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the parched landscape in the region where Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya meet.

Mr Mitchell has arrived at the camp, which he will tour to see the scale of the drought.

The minister, who estimates that there are about 400,000 people in the camp, is meeting the head of the DEC, Brendan Gormley, and Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children during his visit.

He will also meet Somalian refugees.

The United Nation's Children's Fund estimates two million young people are malnourished.

The UK's aid package comes after a joint charity appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) saw more than £13m raised in a week.

The cash is in addition to the £38m food aid package announced on 3 July to feed 1.3m people for three months.

The Department for International Development (DFID) said the money would help:

  • 500,000 people in Somalia, including treatment for nearly 70,000 acutely malnourished children
  • Over 130,000 people in the Dadaab camps to help provide them with clean drinking water and health care
  • 100,000 people in Dolo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia to provide them with shelter and clean drinking water as well as targeted treatment of starving children
  • 300,000 Kenyans, including special rations to prevent malnutrition in children under the age of five and breastfeeding mothers.

Mr 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."

Map of drought in the Horn of Africa

Meanwhile, Mr Forsyth said he had seen, at first hand, the suffering the drought had caused 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," he said.

"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."

The charity director also praised the "unbelievable generosity" of the public for donating to the DEC appeal.

Mr Gormley said the need to "scale up" the response to the disaster was urgent, adding that he was pleased that the government had announced more funding.

He said: "Combined with the extraordinary generosity of the UK public to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, we can truly say that the UK is playing a leading role in responding to this disaster.

"There is still, however, a great deal more to be done before we can say we have safeguarded the lives of the 10 million people at risk."

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