The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that nearly $418 million are urgently needed over the next six months to scale up assistance in the Horn of Africa as levels of hunger soar after back-to-back droughts and the threat of famine looms.
WFP on Friday added that the severe drought across the Horn of Africa is expected to continue in the coming months, with a fifth poor rainy season forecast later this year, Xinhua news agency reported.
"There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must get the resources needed to save lives and stop people plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation," WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
Since the start of the year, nine million more people have slipped into severe food insecurity across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, leaving 22 million people struggling to find enough food to eat, the UN agency said.
Beasley on Thursday wrapped up a visit to drought-ravaged Somalia, where more than seven million people -- close to half the nation's population -- are acutely food insecure and 213,000 are already facing famine-like conditions.
The Executive Director visited the southern city of Bardhere and met families, including malnourished children and their mothers who were forced to leave their homes and travel long distances through conflict-wracked areas in search of humanitarian assistance.
"People here have been waiting years for rain, but they cannot wait any longer for life-saving food assistance. The world needs to act now to protect the most vulnerable communities from the threat of widespread famine in the Horn of Africa," said Beasley.
WFP said that it's tripling the number of people reached with life-saving food assistance in the Bardhere area, which hosts thousands of people driven from their homes by drought and conflict.
During the 2016/17 drought in the Horn of Africa, WFP said, a catastrophe was avoided through early action, noting that humanitarian assistance was scaled up before there was widespread hunger, saving lives and averting a devastating famine.
The Executive Director said WFP is targeting 8.5 million people across the Horn of Africa, up from 6.3 million at the start of the year.
WFP at the start of 2022 warned that 13 million people in the Horn of Africa were facing acute food insecurity due to the drought.
By mid-year, with the fourth consecutive failure of rains, that number increased to 20 million and now, the number is projected to rise again to at least 22 million by September.
"This number will continue to climb, and the severity of hunger will deepen if the next rainy season (October to December) fails and the most vulnerable people do not receive humanitarian relief. Needs will remain high into 2023 and famine is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia," WFP added.
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