Save the Children says East Africa appeal best in history

A malnourished child in Somalia
Image caption The East Africa drought has affected Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti

Save the Children says its emergency appeal for the drought and famine in East Africa has been the most successful in the charity's history.

Its appeal began in July, as the region faced its worst drought in 60 years.

The charity said more than £7m had been raised in the UK in six months. The money went on medical supplies, food and clean water for 1.7m children.

Meanwhile, the government has called on UK companies to give more to charity as household budgets come under pressure.

Save the Children said that the money raised by its appeal showed that "even when times are tough at home... British people care deeply about the world's most vulnerable children."

Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd called on companies to give more of their money and time to good causes as household budgets come under pressure.

He said that corporate donations in the UK made up 3% of all cash payments to charities, whereas in the United States it was 5%.

The East Africa drought has affected the countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, with conflict-torn Somalia being the hardest-hit.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled rural areas in search of food.

Last month, the United Nations downgraded three areas of the worst-affected areas of Somalia from famine zones. The UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit said the intervention of aid agencies had improved conditions in the Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle areas.

But it warned that a quarter of a million people still faced imminent starvation and more than $1bn in donations would be needed next year.

Last week, UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said aid sent to East Africa over Christmas would protect UK security as well as save lives.

Britain is funding 9,000 tonnes of food and medical supplies for the Horn of Africa. Mr Mitchell said it would also help prevent terrorism and disorder in Somalia which was a "direct threat" to the UK.

Mr Mitchell said the latest estimate was that up to 100,000 people may have died in the Horn of Africa between April and August.

He said there were some signs that the situation was improving, but that the situation was still desperate for people who remained malnourished and stuck in camps.

Mr Mitchell said Somalia in particular needed more assistance than aid.

He said the prime minister would be hosting a conference in London in February to examine what the international community could do to help the country.

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