Neighbours of Niger also facing food crisis

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nigerian child starving due to nationwide food shortage.

A food crisis is threatening three other countries in the region of Niger — a country facing severe food shortages after drought and plagues of locusts — the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned.

The three — Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania — have been affected by drought and plagues of locusts that engulfed the Sahel region of West Africa last August.

About 6 million are short of food and require food aid: 3.5 million from Niger; 1.1 million from Mali; 750,000 from Mauritania; and 500,000 from Burkina Faso.

The United Nations — which has a Consolidated Appeal for West Africa of just under £196 million US dollars in aid for the region this year — is expecting to feed 250,000 people shortly. In May, OCHA made an additional flash appeal for $16,191,000 US dollars.

Over the past few weeks, the media has shown graphic images of the situation in Niger. Jan Egelend, OCHA Under-Secerary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, claims that the situation in the region prior to this was largely ignored by the international community, saying that: "Over the last few days, the world has finally woken up, but it took graphic images of dying children for this to happen."