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Emergency appeal launched for Lake Chad crisis

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31 October 2016

The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help people facing a dire humanitarian crisis in Africa’s Lake Chad region.

Conflict, acute food shortages, disease and widespread displacement have conspired to leave millions of people in need of help across Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

“The scale of the crisis is unimaginable. There is a critical food shortage and children especially are suffering,” said Ben Webster, head of emergencies at the British Red Cross.

“Not a day goes by without a child dying of malnutrition. The world simply cannot afford to ignore this crisis for any longer. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”

A forgotten crisis

Around 2.6 million people have fled their homes due to conflict – this number has tripled over the last two years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), one of the few organisations able to operate in the region, has dramatically scaled up its relief effort.

The ICRC’s Lake Chad operation is now its second largest in the world, behind only Syria.

“Over nine million people need life-saving aid. Yet, by and large, the world doesn't seem to care,” said Peter Maurer, ICRC president.

“Buried safely away in an inaccessible corner of Africa, this conflict has been allowed to fester for years.

“A breaking news story on the kidnapped Chibok girls brings the Lake Chad region up on the radar internationally briefly, before it quickly lapses into obscurity once again.”

Threat of famine

Some 6.3 million people are facing severe food shortages. More than half a million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says food shortages in north-eastern Nigeria are at ‘emergency’ levels in some places. The next level up is famine.

Since the beginning of the year, the Red Cross has distributed food to more than 900,000 people in Nigeria.

Money raised from our emergency appeal will support the ICRC’s relief work.

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