Tens of thousands of children across East Africa could die from starvation unless the world acts soon to stop the famine affecting millions in the region, a charity has warned.
Humanitarian aid organisation World Vision UK warned that that East Africa is on the brink of an unprecedented crisis. Twenty-two million people are in need of vital support and more than 3.5 million children are suffering from severe malnutrition.
World Vision UK has thanked the UK for its recent announcement of emergency aid for South Sudan and Somalia, and urged swift delivery of its aid, as well long-term commitment to the needs of the suffering.
'We commend the UK government's efforts in East Africa and welcome that it is leading the charge to help some of the world's most vulnerable people,' said Peter Keegan, World Vision UK's government relations manager. 'We're delighted that new packages of UK aid have been announced for South Sudan and Somalia.
'As International Development Secretary Priti Patel has noted, this is now an emergency. The Government needs to match its strong words with rapid implementation. It must ensure that it delivers its funding commitments through partners that are able to get aid quickly to starving children and adults.
'We have only a small window of opportunity to avoid regional catastrophe and we hope the international community will follow Britain's lead in responding to the crisis.'
World Vision UK has today launched East Africa Hunger Crisis appeal, a campaign to raise urgent financial support for 2.2 million of the most vulnerable children in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.
World Vision warns that the intense famine is forcing many families to flee into regions rife with conflict, 'putting millions of children at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse'.
Christopher Hoffman, World Vision's regional humanitarian and emergency affairs director for East Africa, said: 'The hunger crisis in East Africa is unprecedented in its scope and size. With almost 23 million people, including more than 10 million children, in search of one daily meal, the humanitarian community and affected governments are searching for immediate solutions to curb the urgent needs.
'While the need to address famine in South Sudan is urgent, more so is the immediate need to help those that are on the cusp of starvation throughout East Africa. Humanitarians are working fast to stop any further degradation of the current situation, where the possibility of large scale suffering and subsequent deaths is eminent without assistance.
'World Vision is responding to multiple needs in very complex situations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan – working tirelessly to address the needs of children in crisis.'
The donation page for World Vision's appeal can be found here.