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IFRC: Food Crisis In Horn Of Africa Reaching Alarming Proportions

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is reporting that populations in large areas of Kenya and the Horn of Africa are now facing an exceptional humanitarian crisis that requires urgent food assistance. The IFRC says the combined effect of high worldwide food prices and a crippling drought are seriously jeopardizing the lives, livelihoods, and dignity of up to 20 million people in rural and urban communities.

The Federation’s Nairobi-based communications manager, Andrei Neacsu who just returned from northern Kenya tells Nightline’s Akwei Thompson the situation is reaching alarming proportions in some of the worst affected areas.

“In Kenya 80 percent of the territory is affected, he said “with the northern and lower eastern Kenya the most affected. Were talking of a target population of 1.6 million for the Red Crescent,” he said.

Other areas are Djibouti with 50 thousand people in dire need. Ethiopia is affected with an estimated 5 million need of food. He said the Red Cross is moving in to start assisting the first 150 thousand people. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent are also active in southern Somalia, as well as Somaliland and Puntland.

Neascu said one of the first challenges the federation is facing is capturing the world’s attention.

“We have launched an appeal seeking 95 million dollars, now we have received only 6 percent in the two months since we launched and this is not enough to run an operation.”

The IFCR communications manager said the situation has been exacerbated by the global and financial crisis. However a small fraction of the billions of dollars being spent by governments to bail out banks and financial institutions could help save millions of lives in the Horn of Africa, he said