Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Agencies in Africa drought appeal

The Disasters Emergency Committee is launching an appeal to raise money for 10 million hit by a drought in East Africa (AP)

A group of leading British humanitarian agencies have been launching a joint appeal to help more than 10 million people in the grip of East Africa's worst drought in decades.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) will broadcast a series of televised appeals in a bid to drum up support for thousands of families caught up in the crisis.

Many have left their homes with children to trek barefoot for days across parched scrubland to Kenya in the hope of finding food and water.

According to the DEC, which co-ordinates responses to major disasters overseas, more than 1,300 people - the majority of whom are youngsters - are arriving in the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya near the border with Somalia every day.

The camp is already believed to be the largest of its kind in the world with a population of around 350,000.

DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley stressed the need for a "long-term solution" but said the immediate priority was to prevent a "tragedy".

"Slowly but surely, these people have seen their lives fall apart - crops, livestock and now their homes have been taken by the drought," he said. "They've been left with no alternative but to seek shelter and life-saving help elsewhere. We have a duty to help quickly before the situation spirals out of control."

Large areas of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia are currently affected by the drought conditions, leaving millions in dire need.

Earlier this week, the Department for International Development (DfID) pledged £38 million to the World Food Programme which will provide the food aid that the DEC will be distributing. But its members are continuing to pursue further funding to bridge the shortfall in East Africa.

The DEC appeals will be broadcast on ITV/ITN, BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel Five.

How you can help

Donate at Disasters Emergency Committee website

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