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Mo Farah has been named ambassador for Save the Children, one of the 13 UK aid agencies under the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The committee’s new East Africa Food Crisis Appeal is hoping to bring aid to more than 16 million people in the region on the brink of starvation and in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment.

Farah, 33, wrote on his Facebook page to announce his support behind this project.

It breaks my heart, I can’t imagine how awful it would be to watch my children not having food to eat or water to drink, but this is a reality being faced by so many parents in East Africa.”

Farah, who was born in Somalia but moved to Britain as a child, is Britain’s most successful track athlete, winning gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London Olympics in 2012 and repeating the feat in 2016 in Rio.

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According to Sky Newsthe UN declared in February that parts of war-torn South Sudan are experiencing famine, the first time the world has faced such a catastrophe in six years.

Somalia is on the brink of its second famine since 2011, with people already dying from hunger and diarrhea resulting from drought.

No fewer than 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished,” DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said in a statement.

We are hearing that families are so desperate for food that they are resorting to eating leaves to survive.

This is something no family should have to endure. Unless we act now the number of deaths will drastically increase.”

He said that without urgent treatment, they are at risk of starving to death.

The British government will match the first five million pounds donated by the public, with International Development Secretary Priti Patel describing this as “an unprecedented challenge with millions of people stalked by the scourge of famine”.

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