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  • Men drawing water from a well in Somaliland, Somalia, July 25, 2019.

    Men drawing water from a well in Somaliland, Somalia, July 25, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 July 2019

About 5.4 million people in Somalia, 8.3 million in Ethiopia and 1.6 million in Kenya are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The humanitarian organization Oxfam Thursday warned that more than 15 million people are at severe risk due to drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the countries at the "Horn of Africa." 

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According to recent studies, the overall number of people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance are 5.4 million in Somalia, 8.3 million in Ethiopia and 1.6 million in Kenya.

Of that 15.3 million Africans who are already at risk, the number of people experiencing severe hunger due to the drought are 3.8 million in Ethiopia, 2.2 million in Somalia and 1.6 million in Kenya.

"The lack of rainfall has spoiled the crops and, with them, the livelihoods of numerous communities, leaving 7.6 million people at risk of extreme hunger," Oxfam said in a statement.

In the last decade, the Horn of Africa has been plagued by two droughts: a very severe one in 2011 in which 260,000 people died and another in 2017 in which the international response was faster and more effective.

"From the famine of 2011, we learned that we must respond quickly and decisively to save lives. But that international commitment to ensure that this did not happen again has become self-indulgence," Lydia Zigomo, the Oxfam director for the Horn of Africa, said.

"Once again, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people," Zigomo added, emphasizing that, without further international help, it will be very difficult to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

"We cannot wait for images of malnourished people and dead animals to fill our television screens. We must act immediately to avoid a disaster," said the human rights defender.

Like in other parts of the world, the global climate change is affecting rainfall patterns in Africa, lengthening drought seasons and intensifying water scarcity.

"In 2017, we lost all our livestock. If solutions are not found and the situation does not improve, people will die," Jama recalled.

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