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‘We must grasp this chance to act now’ British Red Cross warns as it launches West Africa Food Crisis appeal

Friday 16 March 2012
For further information
Henry Makiwa 020 7877 7479 / HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk
Out of office hours pager: 07659 145095

The British Red Cross today launched its West Africa Food Crisis appeal in an attempt to head off a looming disaster in the Sahel region of West Africa.

At least 13 million people living in the Sahel - a band of dry, drought-ridden territory that stretches from Senegal on the coast across to Chad in central Africa – are at grave risk from a steadily encroaching hunger crisis.

Factors including drought, insect infestations, population movements, conflict, a collapse in family incomes, and high food prices are combining to create an impending disaster

To support the British Red Cross West Africa Food Crisis Appeal visit www.redcross.org.uk/westafrica or call 08450 532 003

“Drought is not uncommon in this part of the world, it is the added pressures such as insect infestations, high food prices and the knock on effects of unrest in Libya, Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria that are creating conditions for catastrophe,” said Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager.

“The disaster hasn’t fully taken hold yet, but the signs are there and we can see it coming as clearly as any hurricane or flood. We need to act now before it hits.” 
 
The Red Cross is already on the ground, urgently working to reach vulnerable families with food and livelihoods support, but needs help to fund its efforts.

Across the region, the Red Cross Movement is distributing essential food to the most vulnerable; seeds and agricultural support for planting; and setting up livelihood and cash for work programmes.

“We know that acting now to try and prevent a catastrophe will not only save more lives, but also cost less than mounting an emergency response once the disaster has fully taken hold," added Armstrong.

“We must grasp this chance to act now and intervene before we are dealing with a full blown catastrophe.”

Millions of people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Burkina Faso have now endured poor harvests since 2010.
Security concerns in northern Nigeria, Libya, Niger, Senegal, Ivory Coast and northern Mali have triggered widespread population movements and weakened economies.

Many migrant workers from the Sahel region have been forced to return home because of fighting in the Ivory Coast and Libya, cutting off remittances which had been keeping households going.

Ends
Notes to editors

• For press enquires, b-roll footage,  images or to arrange interviews, please contact Henry Makiwa on Hmakiwa@redcross.org.uk
• To support the British Red Cross East Africa Food Crisis Appeal visit www.redcross.org.uk/foodcrisis or call 0845 054 7200.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/britishredcross

 

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