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Top UN relief official urges "every effort" to help famine-hit Somalia

(Xinhua)

10:04, August 18, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The top UN humanitarian official on Wednesday said that "every effort needs to be made" with the continued devastating spread of Somalia's famine as she called on the international community to step up funding for assistance in the Horn of Africa.

"We're faced with the still spreading famine in Somalia and with such a scale of suffering, every effort needs to be made and sustained in the months ahead," Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary- general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters in a press conference.

After having just returned from a three-day mission to Somalia and Kenya to see first-hand the impact of the famine, Amos said she was "struck by the devastation" in Somali capital Mogadishu.

"That's why we are still appealing for an additional just under 1.2 billion U.S. dollars," Amos said. "There are still many lives that need to be saved in the Horn of Africa."

Aid effort is "accelerating," Amos said, citing such instances where hot meals are being given out everyday to almost 100,000 people, half a million people are getting clean water which is crucial to prevent the spread of cholera and other diseases, emergency measles vaccination campaign to reach 88,000 children.

"Nonetheless, it is clear that even in Mogadishu that the famine has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people," she warned.

Amos also called on efforts to be scaled up in nearby Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which are areas that are hosting Somalia refugees.

Somalia has been experiencing the most severe food crisis in African history. About 3.6 million people in the country are at risk of starvation, accounting for half of its population. More than half of all Somali children are undernourished, with six infants dying from malnutrition every day.

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