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 user 2005-07-28 at 11:47:00 am Views: 89
  • #12200
    Aid arrives for hungry in Niger
    A plane carrying food aid has landed in Niger, where some 150,000 children are said to be facing starvation.

    However, the BBC’s Hilary Andersson in southern Niger says the 16 tons of aid is a “drop in the ocean”.

    Some 23,000 tons of food are needed for more than 2.5m people, the UN says. The food crisis follows poor rains and locust invasions last year.

    Children are dying every day and many are too sick to make it to the few feeding centres which have been set up.

    The plane carrying oil, sugar and Plumpynut – a highly nutritious paste for young children – was sent by French aid agency Reunir.

    Another airlift is expected over the weekend, containing 40 tons of millet and 28 tons of oil, says the UN’s World Food Programme.

    Grass and leaves

    In a single feeding centre, about 20 children out of 100 children have died in the past few weeks , our correspondent says.

    The charity Oxfam said families were feeding their children grass and leaves from trees to keep them alive.

    The world wakes up when we see images on the TV and when we see children dying
    Jan Egeland
    The UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, on Wednesday accused the international community of reacting slowly to the crisis in Niger.

    The crisis was widely predicted after last year’s poor harvests but initial food appeals went largely unheeded.

    The Niger government has also sought to downplay the scale of the crisis, refusing demands to distribute free food.

    ‘Too late’

    “The world wakes up when we see images on the TV and when we see children dying,” Mr Egeland told the BBC’s World Today programme.

    The slow response has greatly increased the cost of dealing with the crisis, aid workers say.

    “The funding needs are sky-rocketing because it’s a matter of saving lives,” WFP Niger representative Gian Carlo Cirri said.

    “The pity is we designed a preventative strategy early enough, but we didn’t have the chance to implement it.”

    Aid workers in Niger say that up to a quarter of the country’s 12 million people need food aid.

    The UN has now received only a third of the $30m it had asked for, Mr Egeland said.

    Mr Egeland also said that beyond immediate food aid, the world should help Niger improve its agricultural methods to avoid future food crises – but this programme had received even fewer pledges