Saturday, July 24, 2010

Four West African countries face food crisis

Chad, Mali, Niger and Mauritania, UN officials said will find the coming weeks as the toughest as we get into this year’s rainy season having had “little food” during last year's harvest.

The statement came up in the form of an appeal by the UN officials who are pleading for immediate economic assistance for the affected African countries. Humanitarian agencies and relief organizations, on behalf of the drought-ridden countries, demanded continued economic support from the international community at the United Nations.

"The levels of food insecurity have begun to spiral out of control and affect a number of countries across the region," U.N. Under-Secretary-General John Holmes was quoted.

According to the UN, over 10 million people in the Sahel are at risk for food shortages, and their situation is unlikely to improve until the coming harvest in October.

The Republic of Niger is said to be the worst affected, with some 7 million people suffering from severe or moderate food insecurity, which is almost fifty percent of its population.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme, was quoted as saying that the people of Niger had six weeks until it is agreed they will be out of the severe danger zone.

“… the ramp-up has to happen not in a few weeks but now, before this very difficult time. We're in the long stretch between last year's harvest and the one coming up.”

Nigeria is reported to have set aside 15,000 tonnes of assorted grains for donation to Niger and Chad Republics in response to a request by the sub regional bloc of ECOWAS. There are reports of “severe acute malnutrition” among children in Chad, where the UN says the number of severely malnourished children has doubled.

"At the end of the day, what kills children suffering from malnutrition is disease of some kind affecting them in their weakened states. And we're particularly concerned that as the rainy season is starting now, diseases like malaria, diarrhea and respiratory diseases will spread as they always do at this time of year and the death rates for the affected children will go up rapidly," U.N. Under-Secretary-General Holmes said.

African News

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