Washington, DC - - The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, sent an emergency donation to the people of Somalia who are facing the worst drought since 1960.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 10 million people are suffering, and hundreds of thousands of refugees risk dying because of a lack of basic necessities.

Somalia and Northern Kenya are the worst struck areas and no rain is expected until October.

Caritas, the international network of Catholic humanitarian agencies, which includes the U.S. based Catholic Relief Services, is planning major assistance to refugee camps in east Kenya while ramping up feeding programs in Ethiopia as well.

According to UNICEF, among children from Somalia arriving in the refugee camps, acute malnutrition rates are as high as 40%.

At the Dadaab camp in Kenya, more than a thousand new refugees are arriving each day, traveling days and even weeks from their homes in Somalia seeking food and medical attention.

In Ethiopia, CRS is leading a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development that involves working with nine other humanitarian organizations to distribute food.

The reach of that effort is expanding from 400,000 to 1 million beneficiaries. CRS is working with Caritas Ethiopia to identify other critical needs.

CRS agency wide Emergency Response Team, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is playing a leading role in planning that agency's response to the crisis.

Cor Unum, the papal foundation which coordinates the Holy Father's charities, and plays a key role in the work of Caritas Internationalis, noted Pope Benedict's appeal to Catholics world - wide this past week-end, urging international solidarity in response to the drought that has caused the emergency.

For further information on the emergency response contact: Caritas Internationalis.