A severe drought has been going on in East Africa for months. According to the organization Save the Children, 5.7 million children are currently suffering from acute malnutrition. And hesitant action exacerbates the situation.

In view of the severe drought in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia that has been going on for months and an impending famine, aid organizations have denounced the failure of the international community.

It is estimated that one person dies every 48 seconds in the three countries from hunger and malnutrition, according to a report by Oxfam and Save the Children released on Wednesday.

“The clock is ticking and every minute that passes is bringing starving children closer to death,” said Kijala Shako, Save the Children’s regional spokesperson for East and Southern Africa. Currently, 5.7 million children are acutely malnourished. The United Nations warns that more than 350,000 children could die in Somalia. In order to save lives now, the heads of state and government of the G7 and the West must immediately provide funds to meet the United Nations emergency aid call for the countries of the Horn of Africa amounting to the equivalent of almost 4.2 billion euros aid organizations. The call came at a meeting of G7 development ministers in Berlin on Wednesday.

260,000 dead during drought in 2011

During the last major drought in 2011, almost 260,000 people died in Somalia alone. The report states that no lessons have been learned from the hesitation at the time in a similar situation: The Somali government had already declared a national emergency last November in view of the ongoing drought. In February, the World Food Program (WFP) warned of acute food shortages in the affected countries.

“Despite the growing number of alarm signals, political leaders reacted too late and too little, leaving millions of people facing a catastrophe. Hunger is the result of political failure,” said Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International. Reactions to crises such as the war in Ukraine or COVID-19 show that the international community can successfully mobilize resources to reduce suffering – “but only if they have the firm will to do so,”