Burundi raises famine alarm

 A hunger alarm has been raised in northern Burundi, Fides News Service reported last night. The government in Bujumbura says dozens are dying and thousands are in danger of starving to death in the provinces of Kirundo in the north and Muyinga in the north-east. According to local media at least 30 persons have died for lack of food in these provinces but so far no official figures have been released. The government has declared a state of emergency and called for co-ordinated aid for the people affected. In Kirundo the most seriously affected areas are Busoni, Bugabira and Ntega where production of cereals is almost non existent due extremely low annual rainfall since 1998. Also the production of cassava has been drastically reduced by drought. The people have very little food left and most eat roots and worms Some move to other regions in search of food, others resort to banditry and stealing in order to survive. The Burundian minister for refugees said 50 million dollars are needed to provide food in the affected areas. The President Domitien Ndayizeye signed a decree calling the entire country to show solidarity with the stricken provinces and the foreign minister made a pressing appeal to the international community. The UN World Food Programme has started distributing food supplies and the Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO is distributing drought resistant cassava seeds to farmers and installing equipment for a better use of water from lakes in the region. Source: Fides

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