United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday made a plea to the international community to help famine-stricken Somalia, as the drought has affected 11 million people across the Horn of Africa.
   
"To save the lives of the people at risk – the vast majority of them women and children – we need approximately USD 1.6 billion in aid," said Ban in an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times.
   
"So far, international donors have given only half of that amount. To turn the tide, to offer hope in the name of our common humanity, we must mobilize worldwide," he said.
   
"This is a wake-up call, we cannot ignore," he wrote.
   
"This means everyone. I appeal to all nations – both those who fund our work year-in and year-out, and those who do not traditionally give through the multinational system – to step up to the challenge."    

"From within Somalia, we hear terrible stories of families who watched helplessly as their children died, one by one," said the Secretary-General.
   
The UN has said that at an estimated 20,000 people have been displaced from the famine-stricken areas of southern Somalia into Mogadishu.
   
Tens of thousands are crossing into refugee camps in the bordering nations of Ethiopia and Kenya.
   
"Even for those who reach the camps, there is often no hope. Many are simply too weak after long journeys across the arid land and die before they can be nursed back to strength," the UN chief said.
   
"For people who need medical attention, there are often no medicines. Imagine the pain of those doctors, who must watch their patients perish for lack of resources," he added.
   
Ban also said that the fighting in Somalia, which is plagued by a decades-long civil war, also had to stop. The group has refused to allow UN aid to come into some of the worst-hit areas.
   
"As long as there is conflict in Somalia, we cannot effectively fight famine. More and more children will go hungry; more and more people will needlessly die. And this cycle of insecurity is growing dangerously wide," he said.

(Agencies)