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Aid tripled amid Somalia malnutrition crisis

Britain is to triple the amount of aid earmarked for Somalia after serious droughts have left nearly one in three of the country’s children malnourished.

Somalia has been ravaged by nearly 20 years of conflict, with 1.4 million people having fled their homes and 3.5 million living in extreme poverty.

But as fighting rages on in many parts of the horn of Africa nation, food shortages have overtaken safety as the main reason forcing people to flee their homes.

About a third of Somalia's population, an estimated 2.4 million people, need aid after a lack of vital rains, according to the United Nations. This number has risen from two million six months ago.

"It's a very worrying situation, and there may still be worse to come," said the UN’s Mark Bowden. "The high malnutrition rates among children mean that there will be deaths due to the drought," he told the Guardian.

Britain will put up £10.5m of emergency aid to Somalia through the United Nations, said international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, after returning from a visit to the country.

"British aid to Somalia is helping to save lives,” he said. “I met a three-year-old girl who had been on the verge of starvation. Now she is on the way to recovery, thanks to the kind of emergency nutrition that Britain will provide for some 40,000 starving women and children.

As well as providing water, emergency feeding and basic health care the forthcoming review of all British aid programmes is also expected to offer Somalia’s men and women alternatives to violence and extremism. Britain hopes to help as many as 45,000 people into jobs and work to establish stronger communities and better functioning local government and rule of law, the Department of International Development said.

"This is not just aid from Britain; it is aid for Britain too,” said Mr Mitchell. “Our aid to Somalia is helping to make Britain safer, because conflict doesn't just claim innocent lives in Somalia, it also leads to international problems like piracy, migration and terrorism. None of these will be solved without tackling their root causes: ongoing instability and extreme poverty."

Even though the food crisis is in an early stage, the UN and aid groups have raised the alarm because of the lack of access to many of the worst-hit areas. The al-Shabaab Islamist group, which controls much of south and central Somalia, pushes self-sufficiency and rejects outside aid. Because of this, the World Food Programme has suspended hand outs in many areas since last January, including the central Hiraan region, where 70 per cent of the population are "in crisis", according the UN.

Hayley attribution