Horn of Africa crisis 'extremely serious' warns UN humanitarian chief

At the Save the Children-supported Mobile Health and Nutrition Emergency Programme screening in Bisle kebele, Shinile zone, ERC Amos met pastoralist communities who have not seen rain in 18 months. Malnutrition is increasing.

The gravity and seriousness of the drought in the Horn of Africa should not be underestimated, according to the UN's humanitarian coordinator.

Valerie Amos has just returned from a trip to the region where she was able to talk to people affected by the severe drought and food shortages.

She says she was most affected by her encounter in Ethiopia with five women who had walked for five hours to reach a local health centre.

"My big worry is that the children they have left at home who are extremely vulnerable are the ones who are without food because they have not been registered. And the small amounts of food that those women receive from the health centre to last for a week, that they will divide that amongst all of their children which means that the vulnerability will continue for even longer."

Amos says the devastating impact of the drought can also be seen in part of Kenya and Somalia in particular.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General is urging countries to fully fund the $1.6 billion dollars needed to respond to the crisis.

UN agencies on the ground have received only half the amount.

Duration: 23″

Related Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39016&Cr=horn+of+africa&Cr1=

Related Press Briefing: http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2011/110711_Amos.doc.htm

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