Vital aid appeal as Niger and Sahel face starvation - Africa - World - The Independent

Vital aid appeal as Niger and Sahel face starvation

The Disasters Emergency Committee aims to get urgent supplies of food to eight million people whose harvest was destroyed last year by droughts and locusts in Niger and neighbouring countries in the Sahel region of West Africa.

The Red Cross Federation, meanwhile, will begin distributing food to 23,000 children and their families in four of the worst hit parts of the country today.

Mark Snelling, part of the British Red Cross operation in Niger, said: "There are centres for the severely malnourished, but we also want to provide food for those who are not yet in need of urgent medical attention. If we feed them now, we hope to stop the situation getting out of hand."

The UN's World Food Programme and British charities such as Save the Children have already flown vital supplies to Niger, but aid agencies in the field say demand for more supplies is still a high. They also hope that by getting food to countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania, they can save people there from Niger's plight.

The DEC, an umbrella group which brings in charities such as Action Aid and Oxfam will run a radio and TV campaign urging people to make telephone and on-line donations straight away.

"We need the public to donate whatever they can today to help us save lives," said Brendan Gormley, the DEC's chief executive. "DEC members are working together to get vital supplies of food to those who need it most urgently in Niger and are also scaling up their efforts in the other countries of the Sahel region in West Africa, which are also badly affected. Every second counts."

Meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières, the aid agency that is treating the most acutely malnourished people in Niger, warned that a similar crisis has hit south Sudan. The area has suffered from a poor harvest and erratic rains, and food supplies have been further depleted by tens of thousands of refugees who have returned there after the end of a 20-year civil war.

In just one area, Aweil East county, 7,000 children are close to starving to death.

The current spate of food shortages across Africa prompted the Secretary of State for International Development, Hillary Benn, to call for a humanitarian fund which would give the UN the ability to respond to threats of famine without waiting for money from the international community.

"Does the international system work properly in these terrible tragedies? The answer is, it doesn't," he told the BBC. "The crisis we are now seeing unfolding in Niger is a really good reason why we have to do better in the future."

The UN and the government of Niger warned last November that a plague of locusts and a series of droughts had created acute food shortages in parts of the country, but the international community did not raise funds until this May.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week