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Horn of Africa hunger could soar to 20 mln by year end: UN

Family shares one meal of the day in Eastern Africa. File Photo

United Nations | Xinhua | Drought and Ukraine conflict fallout could increase hunger in the Horn of Africa from 14 million people to 20 million by year’s end, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the hardest-hit countries face increasing hunger if rains continue to fail, the cost of food and fuel keep soaring because of the conflict, and humanitarian funding remains low.

“The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that time is fast running out for families struggling to survive,” Dujarric said. The WFP February appeal, the most recent, reaped less than 4 percent of the funds needed.

Over the next six months, WFP needs 473 million U.S. dollars to scale up assistance and save lives across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the spokesman said. Somalia faces the risk of famine, about 500,000 Kenyans are one step away from catastrophic levels of hunger, and malnutrition rates in Ethiopia are well above emergency thresholds, according to the WFP.

He said that drought-affected countries across the Horn of Africa are likely to be the hardest hit by conflict impacts. “To give you an idea, the cost of a food basket has already risen, particularly in Ethiopia, by 66 percent, and in Somalia by 36 percent.”

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Xinhua

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