Aid parcels flown to famine victims
Aid parcels aimed at saving the lives of thousands of malnourished children in Africa have been flown out of Britain as the United Nations warned the famine in Somalia could spread.
The UN said that without massive increase in donations, the famine will extend to five or six more regions inside Somalia, where two regions are currently classed as famine zones.
Baroness Amos, the UN's humanitarian chief, said another 1.4 billion US dollars was needed to save lives.
Lady Amos said: "Tens of thousands of Somalis have already died and hundreds of thousands face starvation with consequences for the entire region."
The British public has donated £42 million in just over three weeks to help drought victims in East Africa, with more than £1 million of that amount 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, praised the show of generosity 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."
On Tuesday night, half a million sachets of food left Heathrow on a commercial flight bound for Nairobi. From there the boxes of food, medical supplies and equipment to gather fresh water will be driven in trucks to Lower Shabelle and Bakool in south Somalia, two of the areas worst hit by famine.
The boxes, sent by charity Unicef, contained sachets of the emergency food Plumpynut, a peanut paste that can be easily digested by malnourished children.