U.N. hosts emergency meeting on Somalia famine

The World Bank promised to provide more than $500 million to help drought victims in East Africa as a U.N. agency hosted an emergency meeting on July 25 aimed at fighting famine in Somalia and nearby countries.

The money would be spent on projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia, including the worst-stricken areas in that country “where circumstances permit,” the bank said. That was a reference to al-Shabab militants, who have limited the ability of aid groups to reach victims in hard-hit southern Somalia. The decades-old conflict in Somalia has long complicated efforts to get aid to its people. Al-Shabab denies there is famine and is preventing some Western aid groups from helping those in need. The U.N. World Food Programme has said it cannot reach 2.2 million Somalis at risk of starvation.

U.N. officials say that in some parts of Somalia more than half the population suffers acute malnutrition. Some families say they lived on the roots of wild plants as they walked for weeks to reach U.N. camps. — AP

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