Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Famine in all but name

 One person is dying every 36 seconds.

 Yet British aid to the region is only one-fifth of what Britain provided when the region was struck by famine in 2017. More than 7 million children are acutely malnourished across drought-stricken Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Two former secretaries of state for international development and the heads of 14 of the UK’s leading aid agencies have warned in a joint letter that he UK urgently needs to do more to help more than 28 million people in need.

The letter warns: “East Africa is facing a catastrophic hunger crisis caused by one of the worst droughts in living memory. It is looking increasingly likely that a fifth consecutive rainy season has failed in the region, leaving millions of families in a desperate situation and facing starvation …what we are seeing on the ground is a famine in all but name. Despite the rapidly mounting death toll, the international response is woefully underfunded and the UK has failed to do its bit.”

The UK has confirmed an allocation of just £156m this year across east Africa, less than a fifth (18%) of the £861m provided in 2017-8 during the region’s last major hunger crisis, which helped avert widespread famine. The UK has given Somalia £62m this year, considerably less than the £101m provided in 2021 and the £232m it gave in 2020. Food inflation in Somalia is currently 15%. The decline in spending underlines how much the UK has been forced to scale back its ambitions in Africa due to aid cuts.

Oxfam’s CEO, Danny Sriskandarajah, who recently visited the Somali regions of Sanna and Togdheer, said: “People I met said the situation was the worst in living memory. Communities have run out of ways to cope and families have been stretched to breaking point. It is incomprehensible that with hunger likely claiming a life in the region every 36 seconds, the UK government has failed to respond in any meaningful way. The time to act is now.”

Christine Allen, the director of Cafod, who visited northern Kenya earlier this year, said: “...this drought has been unprecedented, leaving families who otherwise cope finding themselves in desperate situations. People are doing what they can to support each other, but they need aid urgently. The scale of need goes beyond what charities can do. The UK must step up. The government has cut aid to east Africa to well below than in 2017, yet for many the situation is as bad as it has ever been. This cannot go on, without action now millions face losing their lives.”

Former development secretaries urge Sunak to increase east Africa aid amid drought | Aid | The Guardian

No comments: