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UN Summit must stop Niger food crisis recurring

UN Summit must act to stop Niger food crisis happening again

In 50 days time, world leaders have the opportunity to prevent food crises like Niger ever happening again, says international aid agency Oxfam.

A reserve fund to provide immediate emergency money is on the agenda of the UN Summit in New York starting on 14 September, which is billed as the biggest meeting of world leaders in history.

Oxfam believes UN member states should commit an additional NZ$1.47 billion into this emergency fund on top of their existing humanitarian aid levels, so that when a country such as Niger needs assistance, money would be available immediately.

3.6 million people including 800,000 children, face a major food crisis in Niger, however the UN emergency appeal and the World Food Programme appeal for the food crisis in West Africa are still not fully funded.

"It is outrageous that the world waits until children are dying before acting to save them. The UN launched their appeal for Niger in November 2004, but it wasn't until international TV crews arrived last week that money really started coming in. The amounts asked for are paltry. A small proportion of the new money pledged at the G8 would cover it. Money for Niger will eventually arrive, but it will be too late for many," said Bernice Romero, Oxfam International’s Advocacy Director.

The World Food Programme appeal for NZ$23.5 million is still only 40 per cent funded. The UN emergency appeal for $44 million has only received $15 million, although more has been pledged.

Had this money been given six months ago, it would have cost $1.50 per person affected per day to prevent the food crisis in Niger, Mali and Mauritania. It will now take about $120 to save each starving person.

"Starvation does not have to be inevitable. The food crisis in Niger was predicted months ago and could easily have been prevented if funding was immediately available. In 50 days time, world leaders must set up a UN emergency fund to stop food crises like Niger ever happening again," said Bernice Romero.

ENDS

Oxfam works with others to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

www.oxfam.org.nz

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