UNICEF: 300,000 kids risk death in East Africa

By the Associated Press | August 19, 2011 | 4:55 PM EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The head of the U.N. children's agency says more than 300,000 children in the Horn of Africa are severely malnourished "and in imminent risk of dying" because of drought and famine.

The U.N. says tens of thousands of people already have died in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea and that more than 12 million people in the region need food aid.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told reporters Friday "the crisis in the Horn of Africa is a human disaster becoming a human catastrophe."

In Somalia alone, he said, 1.4 million children are affected, an estimated 390,000 are suffering from malnutrition, and nearly 140,000 in the south-central region are facing imminent death from "severe acute malnutrition."