The British public has donated £15 million to help people suffering from severe food shortages in East Africa.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) East Africa Appeal has been presented by actor Jason Isaacs, actor and comedian Lenny Henry, broadcaster and journalist Kate Adie and actress Fay Ripley.
It aims to help more than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan who have been left in need of food, water and emergency healthcare after the worst drought in 60 years devastated cattle and crops.
The problems are expected to be compounded by a poor coming harvest.
Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, the umbrella body representing the UK's 14 leading aid agencies, said: "Desperation has forced thousands to leave their homes to seek help in the towns or camps, but some of the most vulnerable have been unable to make the long and arduous journey.
"Children and older people with weakened immune systems are often not strong enough to reach our agencies to access the care they desperately need.
"In some areas of Borana in Ethiopia, for example, aid agencies report that the proportion of older people has risen from around 5% to up to half the population.
"The more money we raise the more lives we can save in the short-term and the more help we can give people to rebuild their lives in the long-term."
Almost four in ten (37%) people have acute malnutrition in some parts of north-east Kenya, more than double the 15% emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to the DEC.
Refugees are dying of causes related to malnutrition either during a journey or shortly after arrival at aid camps.
Meanwhile UNICEF, which is not part of the DEC but is fundraising for East Africa yesterday airlifted emergency nutrition supplies and water-related equipment to Baidoa in southern Somalia to assist children and more supplies are en-route.
More than half a million children in Somalia are acutely malnourished and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the charity said.
Rozanne Chorlton, Unicef representative to Somalia, said: "Resolving the lack of food aid and other resources to address food insecurity in the south is of utmost urgency to alleviate the impact of the current crisis.
"Children and their families need health services, clean water, nutrition and an adequate level of care and protection."
Donations to the appeal reached the landmark £15 million figure as the City of London Corporation revealed it had donated £25,000 to the British Red Cross' East Africa Food Crisis Appeal to support the charity's work to provide emergency relief to the area.
Alderman Michael Bear, Lord Mayor of the City of London said: "The British Red Cross does sterling work to respond to hundreds of global disasters, including devastating floods and earthquakes, every year.
"My colleagues and I at the City of London Corporation are happy to offer our support to this latest worthy cause in the hope that it provides some measure of relief to people in East Africa."
Donations can be made at http://www.dec.org.uk or 0370 60 60 900.
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