UN official makes urgent appeal for food aid for drought-stricken African states

17 August 2005

The United Nations Representative for under-developed countries today made an appeal to the international community for immediate assistance for millions of starving Africans in the Least Developed Countries (LDC), especially children, in urgent need of food.

“I would like to draw the world’s attention to the alarming situation of men, women and children in Niger and its neighbouring Least Developed Countries who have resorted to eating leaves and grass as a result of a double-disaster: a severe drought and the invasion of locusts destroying nearly 80 percent of their crop,” Anwarul Chowdhury said in a statement.

Mr. Chowdhury is the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Besides Niger, the countries that need urgent international assistance are Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal and Zimbabwe, Mr. Chowdhury said.

In his statement, Mr. Chowdhury pointed out that at the UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries held in Brussels in 2001 the international community pledged to provide adequate food aid to LDCs facing severe food shortages.

“That pledge, that commitment has yet to be redeemed. The crisis in Niger should serve as a warning bell to the constraints of the 36 countries in Africa, out of 50 Least Developed Countries, facing food shortages,” he added.

Earlier this month, The UN World Food Programme tripled the funds it had requested to avoid a worsening of the hunger situation for the 2.65 million people most at risk in Niger due to food shortages caused by drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts in 15 years.


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