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UN asks for $500 million more in 2011 aid funding
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) July 20, 2011

The United Nations on Wednesday sought $500 million more in aid funding for 2011 as serious drought hit the Horn of Africa, bringing the total sum needed for 31 countries to $7.9 billion for the year.

"The most worrying development is the intensifying drought in the Horn of Africa," said UN aid chief Valerie Amos as she launched the mid-year review of its 2011 humanitarian appeal.

Major parts of several countries were already at the "crisis stage of food availability, nutrition, and livestock survival", the UN added.

An estimated 11.5 million in the drought-stricken areas are already in need of aid, but "the number of people needing assistance will increase over the coming months," said Amos.

Earlier Wednesday, the UN officially declared famine in two parts of southern Somalia.

The UN children's agency stressed that this is "a children's famine".

"I guess that a figure of many thousands of deaths have taken place," said UNICEF's deputy director of emergency operations, Dermot Carty, when asked how many Somali children have died in the last month.

He pointed out however that given the security situation and limited access to southern Somalia, it was difficult to be precise about the toll.

The UNICEF official added that the agency was particularly concerned about 310,000 children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

"This is the most worrying feature, children with severe acute malnutrition are children that are facing imminent death unless we take immediate action, and immediate action is action today," he said.

To help the millions of people hit in drought-affected Horn of Africa, the UN food agency FAO said it needed $120 million from the overall UN appeal.

The revised appeal is aimed at helping 50 million people and also takes into account new needs arising from crises such as the conflict in Libya and the unrest in Yemen.

It also includes funding necessary to assist the world's newest country, South Sudan.

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