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In a recent written statement to the House of Commons, International Development Secretary Priti Patel said the UK had pledged £110m to provide emergency food aid for up to a million people in Somalia; nutritional help to more than 600,000 “starving children” and pregnant or breastfeeding women; safe drinking water for a million people; and emergency healthcare for more than 1.1 million.
A further £100m will also be spent helping people in South Sudan, where some 7.5 million people are in need of help amid a widespread famine, partly caused by the ongoing civil war.
“Somalia has suffered from regular droughts and the problem is the people are just at the end of their resources, they have nothing left.
“Each time this happens they have nothing to fall back upon. “But there have been good lessons learned from 2011 when the international community waited for a famine to be declared.
“Higher temperatures result in greater evaporation, meaning soil moisture is reduced, reinforcing drier conditions and intensifying the impacts of failed rains.
Crops and pasture have less water, and the chance of failed harvests or lack of feed for livestock increases.
“The worst drought-affected areas in Somalia are on the brink of famine.
“The crisis could deteriorate significantly over the coming weeks, as rainfall in March and early April was very low in places and poor rainfall is forecast for April through June, which is the end of the rainy season.
Issuing a “desperate” appeal for the international community to meet a request from the United Nations for about £1.5bn of aid, the charity also said the worst drought in living memory demonstrated why the world must act to reduce global warming.“We were trying to follow the rain – moving according to where the rains were supposed to come. “If the rains don’t come, none of us will survive.” Unicef expressed confidence that there would be no repeat of the 2010/11 drought which saw up to 260,000 people starve to death after the international community failed to react in time.