Friday, May 25, 2012

United Nations Says Starvation Looming Large for 18 Million of Sahel Population

UN: Starvation looming large for 18mn of Sahel population

Thu May 24, 2012 9:57PM GMT

The United Nations says an estimated 18 million people in the Sahel urgently need food aid as drought, poor harvests, and rising food prices continue to ravage the region.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in the Senegalese capital Dakar on Thursday that rapid response by the regional and humanitarian community is needed to avert a looming food and nutrition crisis in the drought-stricken region, DPA reported.

The Sahel covers parts of Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, Niger, northern Nigeria, Chad, northern Cameroon, the Republic of Sudan, including Darfur and the southern part of the country, and Eritrea.

"Across the Sahel from Mauritania to Chad, more than 18 million people are affected. The upcoming lean season will make it even more difficult for families to know where their food is coming from and the situation is expected to remain critical until the main harvest this autumn," she said,

Amos, who is on a four-day trip to West Africa to examine the impact of the food crisis, said some 800,000 people in northern Senegal are going hungry this year, while 2.8 million in Burkina Faso "need urgent help."

She said the political crisis in Mali has exacerbated the food crisis in Burkina Faso. The Plan International -- an independent children’s development organization -- has said more than 60,000 refugees have fled violence in northern Mali into neighboring Burkina Faso.

The Malian military overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, saying his government had not done enough in the military campaign against separatist rebels in the north of the country.

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