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£42m raised for East Africa appeal

The British public has donated £42 million in just over three weeks to help drought victims in East Africa, it has been announced.

More than £1 million of that amount was raised by donors using SMS texting to send money.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 14 of the UK's leading aid agencies, said the show of generosity was "a wonderful example of public concern" for those affected by the region's worst drought for 60 years but added the crisis is getting worse.

The DEC East Africa Appeal said more than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the newly formed Republic of South Sudan are in need of food, water and emergency healthcare.

Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the charity group, said: "To raise £42 million in just over three weeks is a wonderful demonstration of public concern for those in need.

"We can't lose sight of the fact, however, that this is an escalating crisis. It is now for the UN to act and for governments worldwide to dig deep to alleviate the suffering.

"The UN assessment of what is needed in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, for example, stands at nearly 2.5 billion US dollars (£1.5 billion). Less than half of that has so far been received from donor nations.

"Similarly, in South Sudan, the UN has called for 620 million dollars (£381 million), much of which is to tackle food shortages caused in the fragile new state by drought and displacement. The amount that has actually been raised is 324 million dollars (£199 million)."

The drought in parts of East Africa has devastated cattle and crops, with problems expected to be compounded by a poor coming harvest.

The situation is so serious that famine has been declared in two regions of Somalia, with other areas expected to follow, said the DEC.

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