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Aid Group Warns of Famine in East Africa

From Associated Press

Drought has triggered extreme food shortages in three East African countries, putting millions of people at risk of famine as the lean dry season approaches, a humanitarian group said Friday.

Pre-famine conditions have already emerged in eastern Ethiopia, including escalating malnutrition, reports of child deaths, and human and livestock migration, the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said.

A preliminary assessment shows that more than a million Ethiopian cattle herders will face serious water, pasture and food shortages in the first half of 2006. The crisis will peak from January to March, the group said.

Drought has led to food shortages in neighboring Kenya, where 1.2 million people are expected to be affected over the next two months, a Kenyan official said. The government said it would take immediate emergency measures to deliver food to those at risk.

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About 1.3 million Kenyans already receive food aid from the government because they don’t harvest enough food or don’t have sizable herds to sell.

In Somalia, about 2 million people need humanitarian aid, including food and water, medical supplies and security assistance. The drought has led to increases in admissions of severely malnourished children to feeding centers in the south.

About 70,000 tons of food aid are needed through June to feed those hit by drought in Somalia, but only 18,000 tons are available, the United Nations’ food aid agency said.


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