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Famine Affects Millions In Horn Of Africa

The famine in Somalia is the first official famine declared by the United Nations since 1984, when nearly a million people died in Ethiopia and neighboring Sudan. Now, more than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are desperately short on food, and the international community has pledged to respond.

The word "famine" is a trigger for international assistance. Supplies and aid workers are already on the scene in Ethiopia and Kenya, and much more is on the way. However, southern Somalia, where the famine is the worst, presents a major problem: Much of the area is controlled by the terrorist group al-Shabaab, which denies that a crisis exists and rejects the presence of foreigners.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports on the crisis from Kenya, where thousands of Somalis are flooding refugee camps. Commentator Ted Koppel, who was in Somalia in the early '90s during the Battle of Mogadishu, discusses the unintended consequences of humanitarian impulse. Chris Barrett, an agricultural and development economist at Cornell University and co-author of Food Aid After Fifty Years, joins the conversation from Ithaca, N.Y.

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