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Appeals For Tsunami-Scale Aid For Africa’s Hungry

UN Food Programme Appeals For Tsunami-Scale Aid For Africa’s Hungry

With 22 million people in Africa desperately short of food and donations dropping, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called for the global community to respond to the continent’s hunger with the same commitment and compassion shown towards the survivors of December’s Indian Ocean tsunami.

“By responding so vigorously to the tsunami, the world admirably demonstrated how much it cares for millions of people facing extraordinary suffering,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said.

“The challenge we now face is to ensure that a ‘tsunami effect’ does not ripple across Africa, drawing funds away from humanitarian operations there and adding Sudanese, Angolan and Liberian victims to its toll. I'm sure that donors to the tsunami disaster will not allow their generosity to be at the expense of hungry people in Africa, however far from the global spotlight they are,” he added.

Donations in January to WFP’s operations in Africa dropped by 21 per cent to $24 million compared to $29 million for the month last year. Globally, contributions to WFP’s work in Africa represented just 8 per cent of the total received by the agency, compared with 20 per cent in January 2004.

Despite a welcome increase of $80 million early this month, donations for Africa amount to just 5 per cent of the $1.9 billion needed by WFP to reach the most vulnerable and hungry people there this year. Overall food needs in Africa represent two-thirds of WFP’s global requirements.

This stands in stark contrast to the almost full funding pledged towards the UN’s tsunami appeal for $977 million, launched in January. The cost of assisting a tsunami survivor is estimated at $1.07 per person per day in 2005 under the joint UN appeal compared with just $0.16 per person for assistance in Africa.

For the 26 December tsunami, which killed more than 200,000 people and left up to 5 million more in need of basic services in a dozen countries, WFP appealed for food for up to 2 million people and has received full funding for that at $0.51 per person per day.

WFP’s current emergency operation to help people return home to southern Sudan and rebuild their lives is funded at just 7 per cent with a massive shortfall of $279 million. Rations for Sudanese and other refugees in Ethiopia have been slashed by nearly a third as a result of funding shortages. In five countries across southern Africa, where 5.6 million people are struggling against the triple threat of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and their dwindling capacity to produce food, WFP has so far received less than 10 per cent of contributions needed to help them survive through 2007.

WFP was forced to cut rations for more than 2.8 million people in southern Africa in the second half of last year due to a shortage of funds. As stability returns to West Africa, there is an urgent need to restore communities and secure peace after over a decade of war. But WFP operations in Liberia are suffering from serious shortfalls and since June it had to reduce rations for hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people.

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