Thursday, July 24, 2008

Waiting for Rain or Death

War, drought and rising food prices are continuing to ravage the horn of Africa. According to the UK-based charity Oxfam an estimated nine to 13 million people in the region are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. It hasn't rained in the area in eleven months.
It is the second serious drought in the region in three years, it says.

Oxfam is calling on donors to increase aid levels to the region.

The call follows another warning on Tuesday from the UN World Food Programme, saying that more than 14 million people in the Horn of Africa needed food aid because of drought and rising food and fuel prices.

"The cost of food has escalated by up to 500% in some places, leaving people who have suffered drought after drought in utter destitution," says Oxfam's Rob McNeil, who has just returned from the Somali and Afar regions of Ethiopia.

  • In Somalia, 2.6 million (35% of the population) require emergency assistance, Oxfam says. This could increase to half the population of the country (3.5 million) by the end of 2008. Between 18% and 24% of children are acutely malnourished
  • In Ethiopia, the government estimates 4.6 million people are now in need of emergency food assistance. This has more than doubled from 2.2 million in need of help at the beginning of this year. Some 75,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition in drought-stricken areas, the government says
  • In Turkana, northern Kenya, an Oxfam survey showed 25% of children are suffering from acute malnutrition, the highest in the country
You don't see much about this in the American media since 14 million black people on the verge of starving to death isn't really a big deal in this country. You have to turn to the foreign news sources like the BBC to find out this stuff. The majority of these people live on less than $1 a day, if that and these huge increases in price for the basic foods are a tragedy.

Not a pleasant post so early in the morning but this needs to be in our consciousness as we decide on our next leader. The world is bigger than the U.S. and while we represent only a few percent of the world's population we are responsible for consuming some 25% of it's resources.

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