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    East Africa bloc says 50 million face acute food insecurity

    KAMPALA, UGANDA (AP) – More than 50 million people across the East African region are expected to face acute food insecurity this year, a regional bloc said on Friday, warning that some 300,000 in Somalia and South Sudan are projected to be under full-blown famine conditions.

    The assessment by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is one of the most dire yet as United Nations (UN) agencies, humanitarian groups and others continue to raise alarm over the region’s food crisis that many said has been largely neglected as the international community focusses on the war in Ukraine.

    That assessment applies to seven member states of IGAD, from Djibouti to Uganda.

    Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, is travelling in East Africa to spotlight the hunger crisis in the region.

    In Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Friday, Power announced at least USD255 million in drought-related humanitarian and development support to Kenya. She is expected to visit Ethiopia and Somalia, where some communities have suffered four consecutive failed rainy seasons.

    Villagers gather during a visit by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, in the village of Lomoputh in northern Kenya. PHOTO: AP

    Power earlier in the week spoke of the need to prevent the global food crisis from becoming a catastrophe, announcing USD1.2 billion in funding that includes immediate food assistance for people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

    In addition to immediate humanitarian aid, the international community must sustain investment in global agriculture and undertake concerted diplomacy “so that we mobilise more resources from donors, avoid export restrictions that can exacerbate the crisis, and lessen the burden on poor countries”, Power said in a speech yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    Aid groups and other watchdogs have been calling for more funds to be devoted to East Africa after the war in Ukraine grabbed the world’s attention and money.

    Three million people face “emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger, risking death”, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement last Tuesday, noting that “people have already started dying from starvation and the window to prevent mass deaths is rapidly closing”.

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