21 March 2012
The British Red Cross has released £125,000 from its Disaster Fund in an attempt to head off a looming disaster in the Sahel region of west Africa.
The money released today (Wednesday 21 March) will support the International Committee of the Red Cross’ economic security work in Mali and Niger. The funds will also be used to provide emergency assistance as it is estimated that up to 13 million people are affected with the crisis – complicated by displacement of almost 200 000 people following unrest in Northern Mali.
The Red Cross is already on the ground, urgently working to reach vulnerable families with food and livelihoods support, but needs further help to fund its efforts.
Supporting the vulnerable
Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “The money released from the British Red Cross today goes straight to projects supporting the most vulnerable by contributing to providing relief items, food rations, seeds and tools, fodder banks, and livestock support.
“We will also be looking at longer term plans to reduce the risk of the vicious food insecurity cycle repeating itself. Across the region, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has set up livelihood and cash for work programmes, as well as seeds and animal husbandry projects for agricultural support.”
Millions of people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Burkina Faso have now endured poor harvests since 2010. Security concerns in northern Mali, northern Nigeria, Libya, Niger, Senegal, and Ivory Coast have also triggered widespread population movements, and weakened economies.
According to Mahamadou Abdou Garba, who is in charge of the Red Cross health centre in Kofo village, Niger, women and children are most affected by the current crisis.
He said, “The situation here is catastrophic. The number of malnourished is rising day by day and we do not have enough food to help all those in need. We have more cases of malnutrition this year and many of the children suffer from diarrhoea, skin diseases and swollen tummies due to malnutrition.
“It’s really not easy for me to see so many villagers in need of help and not be able to help them because we lack the means.”
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