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UN launches cash appeal as 13 million face hunger in East Africa

Women carrying jerrycans of water from a collection point set up by the UN walk towards a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the southwestern Bay region of Somalia   -  
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TONY KARUMBA/AFP or licensors


People fleeing drought have been pouring into camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu, with many lacking food, water and proper shelter.

One woman from the southern town of Saakow said she had walked with her four children for over eight days — more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) — to get to the camp in the Somali capital.

"Two women who accompanied us on the journey died of hunger," said Amina Osman. "We have no food, no water and we lack toilets here. At night we are scared to go out."

Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Program.

People in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981, the agency reported Tuesday, calling for immediate assistance to forestall a major humanitarian crisis.

WFP said it needs $327 million to look after the urgent needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks.

In a statement, it said three consecutive failed rainy seasons had "decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths."

The director of Mogadishu's De Martino Hospital, Dr. Abdirizak Yusuf Ahmed, said the number of admissions for malnourishment had surged over the past months.

"Also, the mortality numbers of severely acute malnourished children," he added.

Prime Minister Mohamed Roble has gathered the private sector to form a drought task force, seeking to mitigate the effects of the dry conditions.

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