Emergency Southern Africa famine appeal starts tomorrow


 The threat of famine is now looming in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho and Angola. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is launching an urgent appeal tomorrow, to provide food, medical and agricultural assistance to these countries. The DEC unites 13 leading British aid agencies including CAFOD, Christian Aid, the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children, to coordinate and maximise income from the British public at times of major disasters overseas. Cathy Corcoran, Head of External Relations at CAFOD, said: "We must act now to stop these people from being tipped over the edge into a famine. Its not only emergency food that they need but also medical care. Many are badly malnourished - especially the children. They also need the seeds and tools, which will enable them to plant a harvest for next year - in many cases tools have been sold to buy food and seeds have been eaten to stave off starvation. It is imperative that we support them until they get a good harvest. "The reasons for the food crisis are varied and complex with alternate floods and drought causing harvests to fail for the last two years. Political, economic and social factors have also played a part. "Agencies such as CAFOD must respond to these people in need. We are currently doing as much as we can and we will be doing more but the scale of the crisis needs resources beyond the capacity of aid agencies. Only a concerted and co-ordinated intervention at an international level can avert wholesale death," added Ms Corcoran. Brendan Gormley, Chief Executive of the DEC said: "We are seeking to fund a major aid operation in a bid to avert a catastrophic famine in the region over the coming months. There is still time to prevent the worst case scenario of death on a massive scale." In Zimbabwe CAFOD are already supporting a large scale feeding programme and are helping partners in Zambia and Malawi to do the same. In Mozambique partners have been distributing food supplies and tools and seeds in the north of the country, while in Angola CAFOD staff are carrying out an assessment mission.

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