Image: Somali refugees who recently arrived at the Dagahaley camp in Kenya.
Thomas Mukoya  /  Reuters, file
Somali refugees who recently arrived at the Dagahaley camp assemble a makeshift shelter, in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in April. Some 2.6 million in Somalia need aid as a result of drought, the UN says.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/28/2011 6:48:02 AM ET 2011-06-28T10:48:02

Famine has broken out in the Horn of Africa with some ten million people affected by a severe drought, the United Nations said Tuesday.

A UN spokeswoman said the drought in some regions was the worst in 60 years.

"Over ten million people are affected by the drought in one way or other," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the AFP news agency.

"We believe that the drought situation in certain regions is the worst in 60 years. In several regions, we can speak of famine," she added.

Byrs told reporters in Geneva that some 3.2 million people each in Kenya and Ethiopia, 2.6 million in Somalia and 117,000 in Djibouti needed aid.

Child malnutrition rates have reached emergency levels of 15 percent in some areas, she added.

Long walk for food, water
Lack of food has contributed to a surge in people leaving war-torn Somalia for neighboring Kenya in search of help in recent weeks.

Save the Children, an international aid group, said more than 800 Somali children were arriving at Kenyan refugee camps each day because of the drought.

Story: U.N.: Drought leaves millions hungry in E. Africa

It said the children were part of the nearly 1,300 people who come each day to the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya.

The group said Tuesday that some families walk through sand and searing heat for more than a month looking for food, water and shelter.

Story: A drought so severe, it dried up Lake Victoria

Save the Children said the children arrive from Somalia exhausted, malnourished and severely dehydrated.

According to the U.N., 20,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya over the past two weeks alone, a sharp increase from last year when some 6,000 to 8,000 Somalis were arriving in Kenya each month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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