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Misery persists in Horn of Africa

The crisis is primarily in the south of the country, including the capital Mogadishu, with 4 million people in need of food; approximately 1.4 million have benefited from food assistance.

Moreover 3.3 million are in need of water with approximately 1 million people receiving access to safe water.

The U.N. adds that 450,000 children suffer from malnutrition with 170,000 having been treated.

In the most recent US$2.4 billion aid appeal for the Horn of Africa countries, notably Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya ands Djibouti, just over 70 percent is so far funded.

This year the U.S. has provided approximately US$432 million in aid for the Horn of Africa but concerns persist that humanitarian deliveries can actually reach their destination given Al-Shabab tactics.

So how will a long-plagued region emerge from this recent crisis?

Ireland's Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore stated, Hunger will not stop when the drought ends.

Rather conflict and food prices will impose more poverty and hardship on the vulnerable. The Minister added that Ireland was providing over US$67 million to the Horn of Africa in 2011 and 2012, an impressive sum for a European country battered by the recession and debt.

But beyond the humanitarian tragedy, how does this recurring crisis impact on the West?

The Al-Shabab Islamic militias and al-Qaida affiliates thrive in such a murky security environment.

Extortion, hijackings of humanitarian supplies, and the recent bombing in the capital Mogadishu are the testaments to the continued strife. The Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu is teetering.

On the sea, Somalia-based pirates have emerged as a major industry which attacks offshore shipping deep into the Indian Ocean affecting most of the world's trading nations.

Equally large numbers of refugees and the fractious security situation in refugee camps, can lead to destabilization of nearby Kenya.

Without question this famine has become a crisis without borders and can easily pose a wider risk to East Africa and well beyond.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of “Transatlantic Divide; USA/Euroland Rift?” (University Press, 2010).

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