FAO urges quick action on Horn of Africa famine

13:57, July 21, 2011      

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The United Nation's (UN) food agency on Wednesday called for urgent action on a unfolding famine in the Horn of Africa.

"Hundreds of people are dying every day, and if we do not act now, many more will perish," said Jacques Diouf, head of the Rome-based UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The appeal came with a special FAO report that warned of even worse conditions in the coming months unless important measures are implemented. To date, a total of 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of emergency assistance.

"We must avert a human tragedy of vast proportions. And much as food assistance is needed now, we also have to scale up investments in sustainable immediate and medium-term interventions that help farmers and their families to protect their assets and continue to produce food," Diouf said.

The FAO is appealing to world nations for an urgent allocation of some 120 million U.S. dollars in agricultural emergency assistance to counter a drought that is affecting the entire region and Somalia in particular.

The number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 3.7 million in the last 6 months, together with the ongoing crises and conflicts that have been rocking the country since 1991, the report said.

The FAO has called an international emergency summit on the issue on July 25, which will gather delegates from member countries, other UN agencies, international boides, banks and nongovernmental organizations.

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