African church leaders appeal for food aid

 African churches last week sent out an urgent appeal for humanitarian assistance for millions of starving faithful and citizenry in most parts of Africa. The appeal, targeting the international community and sent out on January 29, states: "We, the 168 member churches of the All Africa Conference of Churches, AACC, as a continental ecumenical body wish to add our voice to one of the most severe and widespread hunger now facing most African countries. "People are dying daily, animals are being wiped out and survivors are too weak to produce food in a changing climate that is becoming harsh by the day." Quoting the World Food Programme Executive Director, James Morris, who last December said that hunger threatened nearly 18 million people in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Sudan, the appeal notes that thousands of refugees are on the verge of dying in camps in southern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa. It points out that over 16.4 million people from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique are also facing grave food shortages because of drought and crop failure for consecutive seasons. It is estimated by the WFP that about 2.7 million people in the Great Lakes region are in dire need of food. "This is urgent, notwithstanding the past generous contributions from United States of America, which provided 62 percent of all food aid world-wide last year, that enabled World Food Programme to feed 77 million people in 82 countries," church leaders added. The two-page appeal, signed by AACC's Interim General Secretary, Melaku Kifle, is a request to Heads of State in Africa, African Union, Western Governments, United Nations agencies, civil society bodies, non-governmental organisations and churches in Africa, to consolidate efforts to "provide badly needed food for starving millions in many countries in Africa." AACC is critical of some African governments who lack "political will in dealing with the food crisis in Africa saying that empirical evidence indicates clear linkages between violence, wars and hunger in such countries as Sudan, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Great Lakes and Angola.

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