Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, speaking on the UN's declaration of famine in Bakool and Lower Shabelle, Somalia said:
"It is deeply distressing that the situation in the Horn of Africa is deteriorating so rapidly that the UN has announced famine in the region for the first time in 19 years. 3.7 million people, almost half the country's population, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance with one in three children suffering from malnutrition. The world must step up action to tackle this tragedy which is unfolding before us.
"Urgent international action is critical in order to prevent the spread of famine and further loss of life. So far, the international response has been slow and inadequate.
"We welcome the support that the UK Government has given to the crisis but continue to call for them to push other international donors to match their words of concern with much needed funding. Governments around the world must now step up to the mark and provide the necessary funds to help save the lives of people in desperate need.
"We join the UN calls for unhindered access for humanitarian efforts in affected areas."