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UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on donor countries to immediately come
UN chief calls on donor countries to immediately come up with $1.6 billion in aid for two drought-hit regions in Somalia
up with $1.6 billion in aid for two regions in Somalia declared famine zones.
"Nearly half of the population -- 3.7 million people -- are now in crisis," said Ban, adding that "this will have an increasingly devastating effect, not only in Somalia but also in neighboring countries."
Somalia, which has been affected by almost uninterrupted conflict for 20 years and has become a by-word for "failed state," is the worst affected nation but parts of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also hit.
In declaring its first famine zone since the phrase was formally defined by the UN in 2008, the world body said a total of 12 million people were battling hunger in the worst drought in the area in 60 years.
"We need donor support to address current needs and prevent a further deterioration of the crisis," Ban said. "Humanitarian agencies need urgent funding to save lives.
"If funding is not made available for humanitarian intervention now, the famine is likely to continue and spread," the UN secretary general added.
"The overall requirement is $1.6 billion for Somalia," he said. "Children and adults are dying at an appalling rate. Every day of delay may cause more lives lost."