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Thousands dying due to E. Africa drought - U.N.

Written by: Staff

NAIROBI, Apr 7 (Reuters) East Africa's long-running drought is killing thousands of people due to related illnesses and malnutrition, the United Nations said today in the first such estimate of the scale of the tragedy.

''People are not dying yet in large numbers because of hunger itself, they're dying however because of associated disease and malnutrition,'' UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told a news conference in Nairobi.

''Malnourished children die now in very high numbers, it's certainly in the thousands, probably in tens of thousands across the Horn of Africa,'' he added, responding to a question about how many lives had been lost due to the drought.

Egeland was speaking at the launch in Nairobi of an appeal for 426 million dollars in emergency funds for 8 million people requiring urgent assistance across the region.

''It would be evident if, say, all of Scandinavia faced collective starvation, the world would really respond. If all of northern Iraq was facing massive starvation, I think the world would really respond. If Kosovo and Bosnia again faced starvation, I think the world would massively respond.'' REUTERS SHR KP1604

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