SUDAN WATCH: Niger children starving to death

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Niger children starving to death

This morning, I received an email from someone together with the following message and link to Hilary Andersson's report at BBC News online:

** Message **
Another one for you to worry over. As we shall increasingly discover, very many people are living in the wrong place, and shouldn't have been born, anyway. The great fear amongst Niger's neighbours is that these starving folk will move across over their borders, in search of food. What is your solution?

** Niger children starving to death **
Children are dying of hunger in feeding centres in Niger where 3.6m people face food shortages, aid agencies warn.
- - -

It is difficult to know what to say. My first reaction to Andersson's news on Niger is that it seems to have come out of the blue. The way the aid agencies sound in the report you would think they had shouted it from the rooftops and nobody responded. I receive daily email alerts on Africa but this is the first I've heard of such a crisis in Niger.

Hilary Andersson, a first class reporter, says little foreign aid has gone into Niger to deal with the crisis so far; aid agencies in the country predict the situation will get worse in the coming months and say the world has responded too late.
"The crisis in the south of the country has been caused by a drought and a plague of locusts which destroyed much of last year's harvest. Aid agency World Vision warns that 10% of the children in the worst affected areas could die. Niger is a vast desert country and one of the poorest on earth. Millions of people, a third of the population, face food shortages.

"There are children dying every day in our centres," says Milton Tetonidis of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). 'We're completely overwhelmed, there'd better be other people coming quickly to help us out - I mean, the response has been desperately slow.'"
Note, the report clearly states
"the hunger in Niger was predicted months ago - but that did nothing to prevent the present disaster - a severe drought last year, combined with a plague of locusts, destroyed much of the crop that was needed to feed the people and the cattle they rely on".
The report says the "international community" has reacted too late to the crisis. I guess the "international community" comprises the UN and donors from 191-member states. What became of all the donations and aid pledged over the past year - not to mention the public outcry on behalf of Africa and intense lobbying on Darfur? Where are all the African voices shouting about Niger? And all those who complained about white-man helping Africa with global campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Live 8? It is sickening to know about Niger at such a late stage. What has the African Union and its neighbours - and massive number of church goers - done to avoid such a terrible crisis in Niger? Once again, the onus appears to be on the West to come to the rescue - when will it end? How much longer do we have to stomach getting criticised by Africans for coming to Africa's aid?

Going by what happened in Darfur last April [the UN admitted, when put under to pressure to answer questions later on, that it failed to respond to the world's worst humanitarian crisis quickly enough] one has to conclude the UN is not on the ball and fails to act proactively. The report says "UN bodies and NGOs are appealing for donations through their websites" - when are the African fatcats who were educated in the West going to get a grip and start doing something constructive. We cannot keep going on like this. Even the head of the African Union recently said that if Africa is not sorted within the next 27 years, by which time its population will double, Africa will not be manageable for the rest of the world. It's food and aid needs will be too great.

Sorry to admit it is emotionally draining blogging about African politics and Africa's crises. I'm afraid I cannot take on blogging about Niger right now unless I get some helping hands. If any blogger would like to co-author Sudan Watch, Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch [and possibly Niger Watch], please make contact. In the meantime, if any blogger can put together news items/summaries/round-ups and/or blog round ups for any of those sites, please email me and I will publish them asap with full credit and blog link. Depending on suitability of content, some posts could appear at more than one blog. Thanks.

Note these snippets from Hilary Andersson's report on Niger:

A severe drought last year, combined with a plague of locusts, destroyed much of the crop that was needed to feed the people and the cattle they rely on.

Now, across the windswept plains of the Sahel, carcasses of cattle litter the landscape.

Rains have come - but so late they are now a curse, bringing malaria and other disease.

Families are roaming the parched desert looking for help. One family we came across did not even know where they were going.

"I'm wandering like a madman," the father said. "I'm afraid we'll all starve."

They were hundreds of miles from the nearest food distribution point.

Aid agencies estimate that tens of thousands of children are in the advanced stages of starvation.

Children are dying daily in the few feeding centres there are, where their place in the queue could make the difference between life and death.

Amina is so starved she cannot eat even if she wants to.

"She vomits as soon as I give her food or water," says her mother.

"As far as I'm concerned, God did not make us all equal - I mean, look at us all here. None of us has enough food."

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2 Comments:

Blogger Imnakoya said...

Keep your head up Ingrid, the world need people like you. Thanks!

Thursday, July 21, 2005  
Blogger Imnakoya said...

I can't get your email to work, do you have another add I can use?

Thursday, July 21, 2005  

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