Britain Pledges $61 Million in Food Aid to Ethiopia

Posted July 4th, 2011 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
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Britain has pledged $61 million in emergency food aid to Ethiopia as the Horn of Africa experiences its worst drought in decades.

British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced the aid to the World Food Program Sunday, saying the money could feed 1.3 million people for three months.

He said Britain is acting quickly to prevent the drought crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

The United Nations says more than 10 million people across the Horn of Africa have been hurt by the region's worst drought in 60 years, forcing people to leave their homes and seek out already overcrowded refugee camps.

The U.N. Children's Fund estimated Friday that 480,000 children in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia will suffer from an acute lack of food and water this year, a 50 percent increase over 2010.

Mitchell said the British aid will also help more than 300,000 malnourished children and mothers.

An official with the international aid group Oxfam said the money cannot come soon enough, as people in Ethiopia and across the region already face life-threatening food shortages.

The group's humanitarian director, Jane Cocking, also called on other donors to follow Britain and increase their funding “before it is too late.”