NAIROBI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Humanitarian agencies on Friday jointly appealed for 39.5 million U.S. dollars to scale up humanitarian assistance in Eastern Africa as the worst drought in 40 years looms.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent said the funds will allow its volunteers and staff to assist 1.56 million people by scaling up their emergency and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity.
IFRC secretary-general Jagan Chapagain who ended a three-day visit to Kenya called for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.
"The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long-term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods," Chapagain said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
He said Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition.
According to IFRC, some 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
In Kenya, it said, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya's most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions.
Chapagain said this silent disaster has been overshadowed and to a significant extent amplified by the Ukraine crisis.
"It isn't just food and water that people need here. In the background, there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water - what happens on the journey is unthinkable," he said.
Speaking at the end of a visit to northern Kenya's Marsabit, one of the country's areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Chapagain said he saw firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit.
Asha Mohammed, secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said the fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 percent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery.
"Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts," Mohammed said. ■