Oxfam: $800 million needed to help hungry

AP News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011 8:02 PM

The relief agency Oxfam is urging donors to provide $800 million desperately needed to help 10 million hungry people in the Horn of Africa who are victims of severe drought.

Of the estimated $1 billion needed to stave off a major humanitarian catastrophe, Oxfam said Tuesday night that only around $200 million in new money has so far been provided.

In the last two weeks, Oxfam said, Britain has pledged an estimated $145 million _ almost 15 percent of what is needed.

The European Union pledged around $8 million, with more expected in the coming days, Spain pledged nearly $10 million and Germany around $8.5 million but Oxfam said France has so far not pledged any new money and Denmark and Italy have said no significant new sums are available.

"There is no time to waste if we are to avoid massive loss of life," Fran Equiza, Oxfam's regional director, said in a statement. "We must not stand by and watch this tragedy unfold before our eyes. The world has been slow to recognise the severity of this crisis, but there is no longer any excuse for inaction."

Oxfam said U.N. humanitarian appeals for $1.87 billion for the region this year are only 45 percent funded, leaving a gap of over $1 billion _ $332 million for the U.N. appeal for Kenya, $296 million for the U.N. appeal for Somalia, and $398 million for the government-run appeal in Ethiopia.

On July 8, Oxfam and the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization issued a joint appeal for assistance in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

They said the number of people requiring emergency assistance has grown from 6.3 million early this year to 10 million today, the majority in Kenya.