UNICEF has called for an immediate expansion of assistance to East Africa's drought-affected communities, where over two million young children are malnourished and in need of urgent life-saving help.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake recently completed a four-day mission to Kenya.

"What we are seeing here is almost a perfect storm," he said. "Conflict in Somalia, rising fuel and food prices, and drought. We still have another five months to go before the next harvest, and there is a huge job ahead of us."

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Across the region, nearly 11 million people are at risk. The worst affected countries are Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, where almost half a million children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions, and need immediate help.

Additionally, the ongoing conflict in Somalia is causing tens of thousands of Somalian families to cross the borders to Kenya and Ethiopia, placing further strain on already overcrowded refugee camps.

Beyond the refugee crisis, however, the drought is also affecting millions of farmers and villagers dependent on the rains for their survival.

During Lake's visit to Turkana in Kenya, he heard from women who have had to walk from dawn to midday in search for water in dry river beds. He heard how children were surviving if lucky on one meal a day, comprised often only of palm nuts, and lactating mothers did not produce enough milk to feed their newborns.

"This is not just a question about lives being threatened but a way of life being threatened," he said.

UNICEF urgently needs £20.1 million ($31.8 million) for the next 3 months to further scale up our life-saving efforts and avoid a descent into famine-like conditions. Please donate now.

 
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake talks with children in the village of Kapua in Turkana District, Kenya. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1123/Kate Holt
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake talks with children in the village of Kapua in Turkana District, Kenya.© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1123/Kate Holt