15 March 2017, The Tablet

Major appeal launched as world faces 'worst humanitarian disaster since 1945'

'Deadly combination of extreme weather and protracted conflict is creating a humanitarian disaster across the whole region,' warns Cafod

Following a warning by the United Nations that the world is facing the worst humanitarian disaster since 1945, a major appeal has been launched today to help over 16 million people on the brink of starvation in east Africa.

The Disasters Emergency Commission is calling for funds in order to prevent “hunger on a massive scale” as acute drought in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya has left millions severely food insecure.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan as war and a collapsing economy has left 100,000 people starving and a million more on the brink. Over 30 per cent of children aged below five are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to UN reports.

The South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference described the country last month as “gripped by a humanitarian crisis – famine, insecurity and economic hardship," adding that people are “struggling simply to survive.”

Following a plea issued by the Kenya’s bishops to declare the escalating drought a national disaster, the Government announced that the country was in a state of emergency with severe drought affecting 23 of its 47 counties. The Government has projected that the number of people facing food insecurity will rise from the current 2.7 million to 4 million by April this year.

The UN has warned that Somalia is also on the brink of famine, with 6.2 million people, more than half the country’s population, in urgent need of help. The last time a famine was declared in Somalia - just six years ago - nearly 260,000 people died.

“We no longer have the ‘luxury’ of dealing with one crisis at a time,” warned Matthew Carter, Cafod’s Director of Humanitarian and Emergencies. “A deadly combination of extreme weather and protracted conflict is creating a humanitarian disaster across the whole region."

Cafod, the church’s international aid agency, has joined forces with Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to tackle the threat of famine.

“Cafod has been working over the long term with partners in some of the worst-hit areas”, said Director Chris Bain in a statement released today, “but now we need more support to help communities facing severe hunger. Our common humanity calls on us to take action and respond to the suffering; restoring dignity and hope through the vital aid we can deliver.”

The UK Government has said it will match the first £5m donated by the public to the DEC appeal.

DEC member charities are already working to deliver food, treatment for malnutrition and clean drinking water.


PICTURE: Shamsa Abdi Isse and her nine-month-old daughter are hospitalised in Garowe, North-East Somalia, where the 28-year-old brought the malnourished child three days ago on a seven-hour truck drive with the truck for treatment on 23 February 2017.



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