GENEVA - The International Organization for Migration is appealing for $60 million to provide lifesaving assistance to millions of victims of the worst drought to hit East Africa in decades.
An estimated 16 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti are affected by drought. The appeal by the IOM aims to provide emergency and early recovery aid to six million people through the end of the year.
The Horn of Africa is suffering severe food and water shortages brought on by two previous years of drought, exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon.
A recent sprinkling of rain is bringing some relief to the region, but the IOM regional director for East and Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Labovitz, says the rain has come too late and is not abundant enough to reach the level needed to mitigate the vulnerable condition of millions of people.
"We're happy that rains are happening, but it does not mean that the needs are fully addressed," he said. "And, in fact, there is a lot of consideration that we will have to look at a much longer term of urgent humanitarian assistance."
The IOM reports more than one million people within Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have become internally displaced over the past six months because of severe drought conditions.
Labovitz tells VOA that warnings of famine so far have not materialized because of timely interventions by aid agencies; but, he notes, the crisis is far from over.
"In fact, we are adding millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance over the course of the last month," he said. "When we talk about Ethiopia, it is a rapid increase. The last figure we heard was 5.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance about a month ago. Now, it is 7.8. We have just added almost two million people. And we think it is going to go much higher than that."
Between 50,000 and 100,000 people in Somalia leave their homes every week in search of drought relief, according to Labovitz.