UN Warns East Africa Famine Is Dire

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East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, says 12.4 million people are in "dire need of help."

Valerie Amos, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, warns that more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are affected by famine -- the region's worst in 60 years.

[Valerie Amos, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator]:
"...12.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are in dire need of help and the situation is getting worse. A little less than two weeks ago, we declared a famine in two regions in Somalia. Today, we are warning that unless we see a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions. Tens of thousands of Somalis have already died and hundreds of thousands face starvation with consequences for the entire region."

Amos detailed stories of parents forced to abandon their children.

[...]

Amos took issue with some media reports that criticized the U.N. for waiting too long to warn of the catastrophe.

[...]

Amos appealed for more money.

[Valerie Amos, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator]:
"Today, we urgently need another 1.4 billion dollars to save lives and we need it now."

The UN has warned the whole of southern Somalia is slipping into famine.

And a rebellion waged by Islamist militants has prevented the distribution of food aid in some parts of Somalia.

[Valerie Amos, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator]:
"We of course, stand ready to increase our response on a massive scale, we have the capacity, but we also face armed groups who say they do not want us there. We are doing all we can through negotiations to change that situation."

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