Twenty million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk from famine due to soaring food prices and crippling drought, the global Red Cross organisation said Thursday.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was launching an urgent appeal for 113 million Swiss francs (95 million dollars, 72 million euros) to meet the immediate needs of over two million people in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
AdvertisementBut beyond this, up to 20 million people now are "living on the margins of survival due to a complex cocktail of drought, conflict, displacement and chronic poverty," the IFRC said.
"For the first time, this current crisis is exacerbated by severe external factors such as the huge hikes in the price of imported food and fuel," said Roger Bracke, head of an IFRC team that spent two months in the region.
"What's more, the considerable fluctuations in the value of the dollar have diminished the real value of remittances to many poor families," he said.
"These factors have not just compounded the fallout from severe drought but can in fact be considered as major drivers of a massive food crisis now destroying lives and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa."
The head of the IFRC urged donors to act now to avert catastrophe.
"We must not wait until we are confronted with images of emaciated children on our television screens in the New Year," said IFRC Secretary-General Bekele Geleta.