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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Southern Africa on the brink of famine
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¬†Millions of people are being threatened by severe food shortages across southern Africa following two years of flooding and drought, aid agencies report today. People in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are all badly affected and many have resorted to eating seeds stored for next year's harvest. It is feared that this will plunge them into a cycle of food shortages, as the harvest for next year will be badly affected. CAFOD has received alarming reports from partners in the region - particularly from Malawi - where more than one and a half million people are reported to be without adequate food. Malawi's Economic and Justice Network (MEJN) has reported that more than 100 people died from lack of food in the central and northern regions in January and February, and fear the situation could be much worse. Meanwhile, the Catholic Development Commission (CADECOM) says that in some areas 80 per cent of households are without food stocks and if something is not done immediately many more will die. In a letter of appeal, the priests of Lilongwe diocese said: "Elderly people struggle to get to our churches saying they have come to die. They have no food and no means to buy food. In Dowa district, people are feeding themselves by digging roots and eating leaves, sometimes with disastrous consequences." They describe a village in which seven funerals were held in one day for people who had died of hunger, and say children are running away in the hope of finding food. In response, Caritas International has launched an appeal for £1.6 million and CAFOD has pledged £50,000 in immediate aid. The money will be used to provide emergency food supplies to about 78,000 households between now and the harvest that is expected next month. It will also be used to replace the seed for winter planting which is now being used as food.
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