The United Nations has begun warning the international community that East Africa and parts of the Horn of Africa are experiencing a persistent and devastating drought, calling it the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years, according to a report
in The East African
The drought appeared to be cutting across a wide swath of nations, including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, and the U.N. believes that as many as 10 million people have already been affected by the drought's long reach.
United Nations examiners have placed large sections of Kenya and Somalia into "emergency" categories.
According to a CNN report
, the situation has led to large scale overcrowding at refugee camps. One Kenyan camp in particular, already the world's largest refugee camp and built to hold 90,000 people, is estimated to now have more than 380,000 desperate people there, CNN reported.
The impact of the drought has been further amplified by high food prices and violence throughout the region, in addition to a stubborn lack of rain.
"All the predictions show seasonal rains are far away and the situation will deteriorate -- we have not even reached the peak of the crisis," Dr. Unni Krishnan, disaster coordinator for children's development organization Plan International, told CNN.
"Crops are failing and livestock are dying from lack of pasture," Action Aid
said in a statement on their web site. "With the next rainy season not due till November, the situation is grim."
The U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP) has been monitoring a decade-long decline in rain levels across the region.
"While other droughts may have lasted longer, the current drought has been particularly severe and its impact has been exacerbated by extremely high food prices, reduced coping capacity and a limited humanitarian response, experts say," WFP said in a statement
. "As the number of hungry rises, more resources will be needed to meet the need for food assistance. WFP estimates that around US$477 million is needed to address hunger needs in the region through to the end of the year. Currently, it has a 40 percent shortfall in funding, with about US$190 million still needed."