Red Cross asks for help to feed hungry Kenyans

Nairobi (dpa) - The Red Cross on Monday appealed to the international community for money to help Kenyans facing starvation.

The International Red Cross Federation (IFRC) said it had appealed for 2.7 million dollars to help 200,000 Kenyans in the coastal and eastern regions of the country.

"We have a disaster on our hands, and we need everyone's solidarity'', Wilfred Machege, assistant minister in the office of the president, told a press conference in Nairobi.

The Red Cross said funds would be used for food and the improvement of water sources. The organization also said seeds and farming tools were needed, as many farmers had resorted to eating the seeds normally used for planting.

Last week, the U.N., the Kenyan government and various aid agencies appealed for 97 million dollars to help over two million Kenyans facing acute food shortages.

Kenya has experienced repeated rain failures over the last year, followed by drought.

The World Food Programme (WFP) part of the appeal was 82 million dollars. Among other things WFP said it would expand a school feeding programme to make sure one and a half million children get to eat lunch.

A WFP spokeswoman said Monday that 25 million dollars had so far been received from donors, and the organization expected to start its emergency operation later this month.

In July, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said the country was in need of international emergency assistance at least until the beginning of 2005.

The current food shortages are a consequence of poor rains in eastern, southern and some northern areas, resulting in almost the entire crop being destroyed in several parts of the country.

Grain prices in Kenya have almost doubled while the price of livestock has gone down.

Another result of the drought is that wild animals leave the game reserves to look for water and food, in the process destroying crops vital to villagers.

The U.N. has said that failure of the next rains expected in October could increase the number off affected people to 3.3 million.

During the last 40 years, Kenya has gone through ten droughts, the worst being in 1999-2002, when over four million Kenyans received food aid. dpa ve pmc


Deutsche Presse Agentur
Copyright (c) dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH