Los Angeles Times

Food crisis in East Africa raises alarm

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KAMPALA, Uganda — More than 50 million people across East Africa are expected to face acute food insecurity this year, a regional bloc said Friday, warning that some 300,000 people in Somalia and South Sudan are projected to be under full-blown famine conditions.

The assessment by the Intergover­nmental Authority on Developmen­t, or IGAD, is one of the most dire yet as United Nations agencies, humanitari­an groups and others continue to raise alarm over the region’s food crisis that many say has been largely neglected as the internatio­nal community focuses on the war in Ukraine.

That assessment applies to IGAD member states: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

Samantha Power, the administra­tor of the United States Agency for Internatio­nal Developmen­t, is traveling in East Africa to spotlight the hunger crisis in the region.

In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Friday, Power announced at least $255 million in drought-related humanitari­an and developmen­t support to Kenya.

She is expected to visit Ethiopia and Somalia, where some communitie­s have suffered four consecutiv­e failed rainy seasons.

Power earlier in the week spoke of the need to prevent the global food crisis from becoming a catastroph­e, announcing $1.2 billion in funding that includes immediate food assistance for people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

In addition to immediate humanitari­an aid, the internatio­nal community must sustain investment in global agricultur­e and undertake concerted diplomacy “so that we mobilize more resources from donors, avoid export restrictio­ns that can exacerbate the crisis, and lessen the burden on poor countries,” Power said in a speech Monday at the Center for Strategic and Internatio­nal Studies in Washington.

Aid groups and other watchdogs have been calling for more funds to be devoted to East Africa after the war in Ukraine grabbed the world’s attention and money.

Three million people face “emergency and catastroph­ic levels of hunger, risking death,” the Internatio­nal Rescue Committee said in a statement Tuesday, noting that “people have already started dying from starvation, and the window to prevent mass deaths is rapidly closing.”

Even if new U.S. funding is fulfilled, “the humanitari­an response plan for the region would be funded at 40% of the assessed need,” the group warned.

“After just over three months, the $1.9-billion appeal for the humanitari­an response in Ukraine was 85% funded — a demonstrat­ion of the capacity for resource mobilizati­on when the political will exists.”

Power has criticized China for allegedly contributi­ng just $3 million to the U.N. World Food Program this year, while the U.S. has given $3.9 billion this financial year.

China and other nations “must go above and beyond as we work to prevent famine,” Power said on Twitter.

Somalia, a country that continues to grapple with armed conflict wrought by an Islamic extremist insurgency, is seen as particular­ly vulnerable.

A weak humanitari­an response to the 2010-12 drought was in part to blame as a quarter-million people died during famine conditions. Half of them were children.

Somalis walk for days through parched landscapes to places like Mogadishu, the capital, in search of aid but find that there is little or nothing.

The number of people going hungry in Somalia because of drought has nearly doubled since the start of the year, according to the Internatio­nal Rescue Committee, which saw a 265% increase in admissions for children under 5 with severe malnutriti­on at just one clinic in Mogadishu between April and May.

There is a risk of famine in eight areas of Somalia through September “in the event of widespread crop and livestock production failures, spiraling food costs, and in the absence of scaledup humanitari­an assistance,” the assessment by IGAD said.

 ?? Brian Inganga Associated Press ?? VILLAGERS in Kenya. Millions of people across East Africa are facing “catastroph­ic levels of hunger.”
Brian Inganga Associated Press VILLAGERS in Kenya. Millions of people across East Africa are facing “catastroph­ic levels of hunger.”

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