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13M threatened by severe hunger in the Horn of Africa - UN

Somali women from southern Somalia holding babies stand in a line to receive aid at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, July 16, 2011. Thousands of people have arr   -  
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Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP2011


An estimated 13 million people face severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, due to consistent drought conditions.

According to the United Nations, World Food Program $327 million is needed to meet immediate needs over the next six months and help rural communities become more resilient to recurring climate shocks.

A report released by the agency on Tuesday states that Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are the hardest hit. These countries have not had rains for three years making them experience the driest conditions since 1981.

“Crops are ruined, livestock are dying and hunger is on the rise as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa,” WFP's regional director for East Africa, Michael Dunford said in a statement.

"The situation requires immediate humanitarian action" to avoid a repeat of a crisis like that of Somalia in 2011, where 250,000 people died of starvation during a prolonged drought.

It appears the situation may even get worst as Michael Dunford predicts more rainfalls of below average in the coming months.

Food aid is being distributed across an arid swathe of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, where malnutrition rates are high and some 13 million people are at risk of going hungry in the first quarter of this year.

In southern and south-eastern Ethiopia Some 5.7 million people are in dire need of food.

Until urgent actions are taken, the number of people classified as severely hungry is expected in Somalia will rise from 3.5 million to 4.6 million by May.

In southeastern and northern Kenya, where a drought emergency was declared in September, an additional 2.8 million people need assistance.

In 2011, the lack of rain led to the driest year since 1951 in arid regions of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda.

According to experts, extreme weather events are occurring with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change, and it is Africa that bears the brunt of them, despite being the continent that contributes the least to Global warming.

The U.N. children's agency said earlier in February that more than 6 million people in Ethiopia are expected to need urgent humanitarian aid by mid-March. In neighbouring Somalia, more than 7 million people need urgent help, according to the Somali NGO Consortium.