UK urged to act to prevent famine in Horn of Africa

UK urged to act to prevent famine in Horn of Africa

The UK government has been urged to give the Hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa proper attention as new polling shows only two in 10 people in Britain are aware that the worst drought in 40 years is taking place, let alone threatening famine.

As the war in Ukraine rages, the combined effect of three failed rainy seasons has pushed parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia to the brink, killing livestock, forcing people to leave their homes and increasing levels of child malnutrition. The Russian invasion has exacerbated the situation, which has caused the price of staples such as wheat and sunflower oil, as well as fuel.

According to a poll commissioned by Christian Aid, only 23% of the British public is aware of Vladimir Putin's war, while 91% of the British public is aware of the worsening humanitarian crisis in East Africa.

According to Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, up to 20 million people are facing hunger in the Horn of Africa. Droughts have become increasingly severe and frequent, and this is not a surprise. The war in Ukraine has turned a bad situation into a crisis. With rocketing food and energy costs around the world, we are seeing people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia face a crisis like no other, said Watt.

While we cannot thank the public enough for their response to humanitarian needs in Ukraine, the fact that so few people in Britain are aware of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is deeply concerning. For months international NGOs and UN agencies have warned that the unprecedented outpouring of funding and compassion for Ukraine is diverting attention from some of the world's other humanitarian crises.

In Somalia, about 6 million people, 40% of the population, are suffering extreme levels of hunger, and the World Food Programme warned last month that there was a very real risk of famine if aid wasn't received.

In Kenya, the number of people in need of food assistance has risen more than fourfold in less than two years, according to WFP. In southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, an estimated 7.2 million people wake up hungry every day, it added.

A coalition of aid charities is calling for the UK government to act to prevent famine, keep food affordable and reverse its cuts to international aid after the G 7 foreign ministers met in Germany this week.

We must give hope to people in need in the region. The cost of living crisis is global and requires urgent action from the government and the development sector, Watt said.

There were more than 2,100 people interviewed by the polling company Savanta.