News

WFP: Urgent Funding Needed to Stave Off Niger Food Crisis

UNICEF estimates 1 million children under five will require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year throughout the wider Sahel region of West and Central Africa in the countries of Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, S
UNICEF estimates 1 million children under five will require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year throughout the wider Sahel region of West and Central Africa in the countries of Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, S

The executive director of the United Nations World Food Program says the international community "cannot and must not ignore" deepening food shortages in Niger, which are being aggravated by thousands of refugees fleeing fighting in northern Mali.  The WFP chief, accompanied by the head of the U.N. refugee agency, wraps up a three-day visit to Niger Monday, as up to 15 million people face hunger and starvation across the Sahel this year. 

WFP' Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says urgent funding is needed to continue emergency assistance to four million people in Niger who do not have enough to eat.

Cousin said she saw firsthand this past weekend how precarious the situation has become, especially for young children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

"In those areas where WFP has an early blanket feeding program, we're seeing healthy babies and healthy mothers who can breastfeed their babies.  But in those areas where we have not yet extended our program, we are seeing mothers feeding their children things like wild leaves and berries that if they don't boil them six times are toxic for their children," said Cousin.

Cousin said poor rainfall and a failed harvest mean that the lean season, which usually starts in June, is already well underway for many families.

Niger sits at the heart of a drought-ridden band of territory stretching from Senegal to Eritrea called the Sahel.  This is third food crisis to hit the region in less than a decade.  Aid workers say many of those affected by this year's food shortages have not recovered from the last crisis in 2010.

Humanitarian agencies have been sounding the alarm since the start of the year, but say they have still only received a fraction of the necessary funds.

WFP's Cousin said this year's crisis in Niger is "even more complicated" than it has ever been in the past. "What you have is communities that are suffering from a failed harvest, so there is nothing in some markets.  Where there is food in markets, because of high food prices, they can't afford it so they have no access," she said. "And, then you have the refugees coming into Niger.  At this point, we've seen about 35,000 refugees come from Mali into Niger and when I was there yesterday, another busload arrived."

Refugees fleeing violence and instability in northern Mali have been crossing into Niger by the thousands since fighting began in January.  Many of them ended up in border villages already low on food.

Cousin said the international community has less than a month to invest in aid before the lean season really gets underway.  She said WFP has prepositioned food and supplies but still lacks the resources to distribute them in all areas.

The WFP estimates it needs an additional $450 million to help people at risk across the Sahel.



This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs