Drought, Ukraine conflict could increase hunger in Horn of Africa

Drought, Ukraine conflict could increase hunger in Horn of Africa

A UN spokesman said on Tuesday that YASUYOSHI CHIBA AFP UNITED NATIONS -- Drought and Ukraine conflict in the Horn of Africa could increase hunger in the Horn of Africa from 14 million people to 20 million by the end of the year.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the hardest-hit countries face increasing hunger if rains continue to fail, the cost of food and fuel keeps going up because of the conflict, and humanitarian funding remains low.

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The World Food Programme warns that time is running out for families struggling to survive. The February appeal of the WFP was less than 4 percent of the funds needed.

Over the next six months, the WFP needs 473 million US dollars to scale up assistance and save lives in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, the spokesman said. Approximately 500,000 Kenyans are one step away from catastrophic levels of hunger, and the malnutrition rates in Ethiopia are well above emergency thresholds, according to the WFP.

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He said that the most drought-affected countries across the Horn of Africa are likely to be the hardest hit by conflict impacts. In Ethiopia, the cost of a food basket has gone up by 66 percent and in Somalia by 36 percent.