International aid agency Concern Worldwide has today launched an East Africa Crisis Appeal for €25 million to help support 1.8 million people urgently in need of food assistance due to drought and conflict across the fragile region.
The Irish organisation has deployed Emergency Response Teams to cope with the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, where more than 20 million people are in critical need of food, water and shelter.
Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 4.9 million people - 40 per cent of the population - urgently need food and nutrition assistance while 100,000 people face starvation.
Conflict and ethnic tensions along with drought have exacerbated the problem with Concern staff on the ground hearing ‘harrowing’ accounts from vulnerable families escaping violence.
Similarly, conflict and drought have caused famine-like conditions in Somalia with 6.2 million, more than half of the country’s population, in urgent need of food assistance while an estimated 363,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished.
An estimated 2.7 million people are food insecure in Kenya while 5.6 million people will require urgent food assistance in Ethiopia up until June due to failed rains.
Concern is currently providing a range of services including cash, food, water, nutrition, shelter and sanitation to all four affected countries but €25 million is urgently needed to help reach over 1.8 million men, women and children before the crisis escalates further.
Concern’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa Feargal O’Connell, who, until recently was the aid agency’s country director in South Sudan said:
“Hunger levels in across East Africa have reached critical levels and the stories I am hearing from the team on the ground are harrowing. Malnutrition rates are predicted to rise further and several countries are experiencing serious food shortages. Concern has deployed an Emergency Response Team comprising aid distributors, health and nutrition experts and logisticians to the four affected countries to help our teams cope with the escalating humanitarian crisis, which has reached breaking point,” he said.