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UNHCR Says African Drought Threatens ‘Human Tragedy Of Unimaginable Proportions’

High rates of malnutrition in the Horn of Africa, combined with violence in Somali, “are threatening ‘a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions,’ the UNHCR warned” on Wednesday, the AFP/Daily Telegraph/Vancouver Sun reports. More than 12 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda have been hit by severe drought and rising food prices, forcing thousands to leave their homes and seek assistance in already-overflowing refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, the newspaper notes (Flood, 7/7).

In Somalia, “Islamist rebels have lifted a ban on humanitarian agencies supplying food aid to millions of Somalis after the worst drought in 60 years hit the Horn of Africa region, a spokesman for the insurgents said,” Reuters reports (Sheikh, 7/6). The group, al-Shabab, began to ban aid agencies in 2009, “fearing the groups could host spies or promote an un-Islamic way of life,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post. A spokesperson for the group “said non-Muslims who want to help must contact al-Shabab’s drought committee for permission,” the news agency writes (Muhumed/Guled, 7/6).

In related news, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday “underlined the importance of promoting food security, saying that ensuring everyone has enough to eat has a positive spill-over effect on health, education and the empowerment of women, key catalysts for progress towards internationally agreed poverty eradication targets,” according to the U.N. News Centre (7/6).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.