The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for more than 12 million people in East Africa in desperate need of humanitarian aid because of severe drought today stands at nearly £50 million.
Praising the response, DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said: ‘At a time when the UK’s reputation is in the global spotlight for the wrong reasons, the British people can be rightly proud that they are world leaders in responding to acute need.
‘The money raised has allowed our member agencies to respond quickly and effectively in a number of the worst-hit areas. The crisis that is unfolding, however, is likely to get worse before it gets better.
‘DEC member agencies have filed detailed plans with us for helping more than two million of those worst affected over the coming months – including the emergency provision of food and water, and a wide range of other interventions from vaccine programmes to latrine digging.
‘But the scale of want is enormous – more than 12 million people across the region need support. Public acts of generosity must be matched by government action, and that unfortunately has been in short supply. The UN appeals are still woefully under funded.’
The DEC appeal covers Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan, where the need for food, water and emergency healthcare is acute.
The worst drought in 60 years in parts of East Africa has devastated cattle and crops, with problems expected to be compounded by a poor coming harvest.
UN officials say tens of thousands of people have already died, with the American aid agency USAid, estimating that more than 29,000 children under the age of five have died in the past 90 days in southern Somalia alone.
Mark Bowden, the UN’s top humanitarian official for Somalia, said on a visit to Mogadishu this week that aid was only reaching about 20 per cent of the 2.6 million Somalis who need it.