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19 July 2011

Drought a catastrophe: British PM


Children rest at a displaced persons camp in Shebelle, about 50 km (31 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu, July 6, 2011. 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. Somalia is experiencing pre-famine conditions, driving more than 1,000 people over the border into Kenya and Ethiopia each day, according to the United Nations. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY SOCIETY)
Image by: FEISAL OMAR / REUTERS

Somalis stranded in war-ravaged Mogadishu have pleaded for drought relief, as the UN called an emergency meeting to tackle what Britain's premier described as the region's worst catastrophe in a generation.

The drought in east Africa has left 10million facing hunger and the scope of one of the world's worst unfolding humanitarian disasters conjured up memories of Ethiopia's 1984 famine.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that what we are seeing today is the most catastrophic situation in that region for a generation," British Prime Minister David Cameron said during a press conference in Pretoria.

On Saturday, Britain promised £52-million (R583-million) in emergency aid, and Cameron urged other nations to follow suit.

The UN food agency announced yesterday that a meeting on the crisis would be held on July 25 at its Rome headquarters.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled to seek assistance in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, but many could only make it to Mogadishu, often considered the world's most dangerous city.

- SAPA/AFP/Times Live