Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness are encouraging Australians to help those in urgent need of assistance in the Horn of Africa.

In a video message released today, World Vision Australia ambassadors Mr Jackman and Ms Furness said the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa was endangering the lives of some 13 million people, especially children.

“Children are the most vulnerable in times of crisis like this and in the worst hit areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia nearly half a million young people are at risk of malnutrition,” Ms Furness said. “Hugh and I have been in Ethiopia, and we’ve seen first-hand the World Vision staff who work on the ground. They’re at the crisis points now providing lifesaving food and water.”

Hugh said: "World Vision are also supporting long-term programs such as drought tolerant crops, help for herders’ animals, and families to diversify their income source so that drought doesn’t leave them without an income.

“World Vision urgently needs your help to assist those in need,” he said.

The severe drought in East Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa, is becoming one of the worst disasters to strike the continent in decades.

World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello recently visited affected communities in Kenya and said the failing rains had caused crops and livestock to die, and people to flee their homes in search of food and water.

“The Australian public have already been extremely generous in their support of this crisis. With their help we have already been able to save hundreds of lives,” he said. “However, World Vision is concerned the situation in East Africa will get worse before it gets better. We are increasingly worried about the conditions in Uganda and Tanzania where food insecurity is on the rise.”

World Vision has been responding to the emergency since February this year. The organization is aiming to help more than 2.5 million people in the three most affected countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. There are also plans to assist more than 400,000 people who need food aid in Tanzania.

If Australians would like to donate to World Vision Australia’s East Africa Emergency Appeal they can call 13 32 40 or visit www.worldvision.com.au. Watch the video here.

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