Charities brace for massive famine in Southern Africa

 British and Irish charities are mobilising to feed more than half a million people in Malawi as the food crisis affecting millions in Southern Africa intensifies. Already in Malawi by many estimates more than 100 people a day are dying of hunger and preventable diseases. Zimbabwe and Zambia also badly affected. This year's poor harvest is expected to provide only temporary relief for the better off and large gifts of food through the World Food Programme and USAID are not expected to arrive until much later in the year. British and Irish charities* are now calling on the EU to support their work to prevent the death toll spiralling upwards in July, August and September. The EU is the one major donor active in Malawi yet to make a substantial commitment to the aid effort. Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said: "The international community has been slow to respond to the food crisis in Southern Africa and is now running to catch-up. Only large scale and immediate action can avert the risk of starvation facing millions of people." Although the flooding that destroyed much of last year's harvest and dry weather which has withered this year's crop are the primary causes of the food crisis, politics and economics have also played their part. Malawi's grain reserve was recently sold off without clear explanation and international support for the government was substantially cut amid allegations of corruption. *The main UK and Irish charities involved are: ActionAid, CAFOD, CARE International, Concern, Everychild, Save the Children UK and World Vision.

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