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400,000 children could die in famine

Hundreds of thousands of children could starve to death in Somalia if the global community doesn’t redouble its aid effort.

The warning came from the UK government yesterday as Britain pledged another £29 million to help children and Cattle owners.

It brings Britain's aid response for what is being called the worst drought in 60 years to hit Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, to more than £100 million.

"We call today on other countries to put their shoulders to the wheel and ensure this dreadful famine... does not claim up to 400,000 children," Britain's International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, told reporters in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

"We think the response around the world has been inadequate, dangerously inadequate," he added.

Earlier this week, allegations surfaced that food aid meant for famine victims was being stolen and sold for profit. On Monday, the UN World Food Programme said it was looking into claims of theft and tried to reassure Somalis that it wouldn’t cut aid because of that.

“I want to tell the international community that we have a zero tolerance, zero tolerance, for any kind of government militia or any other Somali looting food aid," said Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, who met Andrew Mitchell.

This morning Aid agencies, government officials and African Union leaders met in Rome for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation to discuss the crisis.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Oxfam’s Penny Lawrence echoed Andrew Mitchell’s pleas for more aid: "Every day, millions of people’s lives are at risk for reasons that are avoidable. Children and women are dying unnecessarily because they don’t have enough to eat, and yet we have the tools available to end this tragedy,” she said. 

“Governments and donors must step up, put their money where their mouths are, and turn their promises into action on the ground. The situation may only worsen in the coming months, and the time to act is now. Any solutions should focus on building people’s long-term capacity to feed themselves in the face of natural conditions such as drought to ensure that this is the last famine ever to strike the Horn of Africa.” 

The charity said it would today start airlifting 47 tons of water supplies and hygiene materials to Mogadishu.

Hayley attribution