Hunger crisis in Africa: “It feels like the end of the world”
Over 21 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Sudan alone are suffering from hunger. The alliance of German aid organisations, “Aktion Deutschland Hilft”, is urgently providing 100,000 Euros from an emergency aid fund to help tackle the catastrophe.
“The alliance is launching an urgent appeal for funds to alleviate the dire emergency”, says Manuela Roßbach, Managing Director of “Aktion Deutschland Hilft”. The situation in South Sudan is particularly acute, as 3.2 million people are fleeing the terror of the civil war. Extreme poverty and a persistent drought are exacerbating the situation. The United Nations has declared a famine in certain parts of the country: “This means that 2 out of every 10,000 people are dying from malnutrition every day”, says Roßbach. This is equivalent to 700 deaths daily among the population of Berlin.
World Vision is distributing food and drinking water in South Sudan, particularly to children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. “The famine will spread even further if we don’t provide more help and if the industrial nations don’t take the outcry from the aid organisations seriously. And many more people will die of starvation”, warns Jeremiah Young from World Vision in South Sudan. “This is very hard to bear for we aid workers, because we know that more can be done”. Time is of the essence; the rainy season starts in April and the parched soil will turn into mud. “Transporting the relief supplies via land will then be impossible”, says Stefan Marx from action medeor.
The cause of the hunger in northern Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia is the most severe drought in decades. Some 80% of the livestock northern Kenya have already died. This is catastrophic for the people living in the region whose livelihoods depend on livestock. An inhabitant of Illeret in northern Kenya told the aid workers of Malteser International “It has never been as bad as this. It feels like the end of the world”. “Around 60% of the population in the Turkana region are urgently looking for water”, adds Nina Skandalaki, responsible Project Coordinator at the Johanniter Auslandshilfe aid organisation. Many people in northern Kenya are so desperate, they’re drinking the salt water in Lake Turkana, resulting in serious illnesses. “The people are already weak and therefore more susceptible to ailments, so a minor infection can be life-threatening”, says Marx.
The situation is also dire in the countries around Lake Chad: 7 million people in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger are suffering from food shortages, again caused by violence, poverty and drought. A donor conference is being held in Oslo this Friday, organised by Norway and Germany among others, and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has pledged 120 million Euros from Germany. Referring to the conference, Manuela Roßbach warned: “Only our joint efforts can resolve the complex situation in the Lake Chad region in the long term”.
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