Response to appeal so far is derisory, says minister

Charities and ministers issued urgent appeals for donations yesterday to the Somalia famine appeal.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, condemned the "derisory" response by some countries to the crisis which has already cost tens of thousands of lives from malnutrition. "It is time for the world to help, but sadly the response from many countries has been dangerously inadequate," said Mr Mitchell.

Donations to the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee hit £20m yesterday but this is far short of the amount needed to save the 10 million people across the Horn of Africa who are suffering from prolonged drought, soaring food prices and conflict. Aid agencies say they were accused of "crying wolf" when the DEC launched its appeal two weeks ago. Unicef appealed for more funds yesterday and launched an attack on the British media for failing to cover the issue. David Bull, its executive director, accused the media of failing millions of starving people by allowing the phone-hacking scandal to dominate coverage for the past two weeks.

Unicef needs more than £35m to feed the children in its Somalian camps over the next three months. Karl Blanchet, lecturer in health systems research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "If assistance is not urgently provided, the famine will spread to other parts of the country."

To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, visit or donate over the counter at any Post Office or high street bank. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000