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British Official ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Somalia Drought

FILE - Women carry jerry cans of water from shallow wells dug from the sand along the Shabelle River bed, which is dry because of drought in Somalia's Shabelle region, March 19, 2016.

The British secretary for International Development says she is “deeply concerned” at the worsening drought situation in Somalia.

At the end of a visit to Mogadishu Saturday, Priti Patel said the drought is affecting millions of people and Britain plans to step up providing support to Somalia.

“Millions of people in Somalia are currently living in desperate conditions as drought threatens lives and instability, which is why the UK is stepping up support to save lives and provide basic food, clean water and nutrition,” she said in a statement.

“Building a secure, stable and prosperous Somalia is a top priority for the UK and while great progress has been made, significant challenges remain,” the statement said.

Millions of dollars in aid

Patel announced that London will provide several million dollars in support for the people affected by the drought. She said the money will be delivered through three U.N. agencies: the World Food Program, U.N. Children’s Fund and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Several days ago, the international community appealed for $864 million to help 3.9 million Somalis who needed urgent life-saving assistance, a statement said.

Delayed and insufficient rainfalls have been blamed for the drought.

The Somali government warned against possible famine in parts of the country unless urgent humanitarian deliveries are made to the regions in the northeast, central Somalia, southwest and Somaliland.

Worst drought in 25 years

The government said this is the worst drought in 25 years. The drought has affected nomadic communities and farmers, according to the government.

She said Britain will host a conference for Somalia in May attended by members of the international community to offer future support for Somalia.

In Mogadishu, Patel met interim head of state Mohamed Osman Jawari.