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NZ Red Cross Supports Red Cross's Niger Appeal

August 2, 2005

New Zealand Red Cross supporting the International Red Cross's Niger appeal

In response to the severe food shortages in Niger and the Sahel region of Africa, New Zealand Red Cross is supporting an International Red Cross appeal to assist international efforts to avert widespread starvation in the region.

New Zealanders can donate by calling the Red Cross Niger food crisis appeal line on 0900 33 200.

The situation is especially serious in Niger, where 3.6 million people, or 28 per cent of the population, are affected by food shortages, caused by a combination of drought and last year's invasion by swarms of locusts. This has compounded longer-term food insecurity.

Populations in neighbouring countries - some 2.2 million in Mali, 1.6 million in Burkina Faso and 750,000 in Mauritania - are also under threat.

Operations Manager Andrew McKie says that such disasters are always present, and require the ongoing interest of communities to ensure the people affected continue to receive support.

"It's a good example of the sort of disaster that people have lost focus of since the tsunami. It is one of many disasters that are only just coming to the notice of the world," he says.

The existing Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in the area will help to ensure there is ongoing relief, as well as a more immediate response to the food crisis.

"The Red Cross will be looking at long term development as well as immediate relief, by utilising the strengths of the current Red Cross volunteer network in the area," Mr McKie says.

Funds donated by New Zealanders will go towards the International Red Cross's relief operation in the area.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent operation will seek to assist 222,000 of the most vulnerable people in the region for the next six months, through food, seed and fodder distributions, mobile feeding centres and community-based awareness programmes.

A key element of the operation will be bolstering livelihoods, to make communities more resilient in future, to ensure they stay in their villages, where coping mechanisms are strongest, and so they do not become reliant on external assistance.

No administration charges are deducted from donations, and administration costs are met by a number of New Zealand Red Cross activities including First Aid and Meals on Wheels.

ENDS


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