“East Africa is in crisis – war, failing harvest and the worst draught in fifty years means that over 2 million children are at risk… risk of disease, risk of death,” says the actor and humanitarian in a new video filmed for UNICEF. “At just one refugee camp in Kenya, there are almost half a million people in urgent need of food, water and basic healthcare. The situation throughout the region is becoming more and more critical. The threat of starvation is very real. By giving just £5, you could give desperately needed food to the most malnourished children. UNICEF’s most experienced teams are already on the ground, ensuring lifesaving aid is getting through, but we urgently need your help to reach every child who needs us. I promise your donation will make a real difference.”
The epicentre of the drought has hit the poorest people in the region in an area straddling the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where families rely heavily on livestock for survival. In some parts of the region, up to 60 percent of their herds have already died while the remainder are either sick or dangerously underweight. The price of animals has plummeted by half while the cost of cereals has soared. In Somalia the price of a main staple sorghum has risen by a massive 240 percent since this time last year.
Malnutrition rates in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are alarming and well above emergency levels – in some places five times higher than crisis threshold. In Dolo Ado, a camp in southern Ethiopia for Somali refugees, malnutrition rates are the highest recorded in this region since the nineties.
Last week, Kristin Davis visited the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya with Oxfam, saying “I met women who have walked for 20 days through the desert, with children dying on the way, only to arrive at a camp where there is hardly any food and water to go around. We must not allow this to happen in this day and age. Anything that you can give will help people who have absolutely nothing.”
Earlier this month, stars such as Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel and Lauren Laverne signed an open letter to raise awareness of the humanitarian disaster: “While severe drought has undoubtedly led to the huge scale of the disaster, this crisis has been caused by people and policies as much as nature. The global food system is clearly not working. Five of the past seven years have seen poor or failed rains across the region – if action had been taken earlier it could have helped mitigate the severity of the current crisis. Pastoralists’ ability to cope with drought has been systematically undermined, as land traditionally used in times of emergency has been sold off or allocated for tourism, national parks and large-scale agriculture.”
To watch Ewan McGregor’s video and learn how you can donate to UNICEF’s appeal, click here.