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Plea for Somalia famine victims

More must be done to help victims of the famine in Somalia, the head of a major children's charity has warned.

The executive director of Unicef UK insisted aid was getting through to the East African country but said 750,000 people could die of hunger unless supplies reached them quickly.

David Bull, who returned from Somalia two days ago, described meeting mothers in the town of Doble - a stopping-off point on the way to neighbouring Kenya - who had walked hundreds of kilometres with up to five children in tow.

He said: "We are trying to support the many people in Somalia who are choosing to make the difficult journey to the Kenyan border to reach emergency supplies.

"People have to travel 250km to 300km to reach the town of Doble on their way to Kenya and Unicef is providing water points en route. We are providing people with food, immunisation and have set up a place where women can give birth.

"We've been working across every region in south-central Somalia where 750,000 people are in imminent danger of dying from hunger within the next four months unless aid reaches them urgently."

Ongoing insecurity in the region has compounded the challenges of access, he added. The next rains are due in Somalia in October but Mr Bull said this "will not fix everything".

He went on: "We still need public support and our key focus is on helping children suffering from malnutrition. It's hard work and very challenging but we want the public to be confident that the money is being well spent in the areas where people need it the most."

The UK public has donated £6 million to the charity, which has sent aid to Somalia by five ships, 58 flights and 78 trucks in the past two months.

Unicef has worked in Somalia for 40 years and currently has 158 staff there.


From Belfast Telegraph