IRELAND has committed €5.6m in aid to the Horn of Africa region this year -- but the Government has yet to decide if more will be given after the UN declared a famine in Somalia yesterday.
A push has now been launched by charities here for more funds to help the thousands of people affected.
Yesterday a spokesperson for Irish Aid, the Government's programme for overseas assistance, said they were "actively examining options" to give more.
It is estimated that Ireland will spend €669m on overseas aid this year -- but that amount has been criticised in some quarters as Ireland's economic crisis deepens.
A number of Irish aid agencies have spent the last few days in the Horn of Africa along with former president Mary Robinson, who heads her own foundation to tackle problems that result from climate change.
Jim Clarken from Oxfam Ireland said the announcement of famine by the UN was a major development in the "enormous" problems that faced the area.
"It has been many years since the last time they officially announced famine, although we would have described areas as suffering from famine in the past, but it puts the crisis into context," he said.
Trocaire revealed church collections would take place this weekend to help those who were suffering.
"The situation in Somalia is deteriorating by the day, with over 2.8 million people in need of emergency aid," director Justin Kilcullen said.
Concern's Tom Arnold said the area was on the brink of catastrophe.
Irish Aid has committed €5.6m to aid agencies and the UN for the region this year, €1.45m of it for Somalia.