1.09.2006

Are we not responsible?


From the AP:
U.N.: Millions of Africans Are Starving

ROME (AP) - An estimated 11 million people in the Horn of Africa "are on the brink of starvation" because of severe drought and war, with some deaths already being reported in Kenya, the United Nations said Friday.

People in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia need food aid, water, new livestock and seeds, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement.

"Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa due to recent severe droughts coupled with the effects of past and ongoing conflicts," the agency said.

FAO economist Shukri Ahmed said the region's dry season had begun and the rains forecast for March and April are not expected to be significant.

Normally, the herdsmen of the area would move from place to place for water and food for their livestock, but the recent drought had covered too large a swath of territory for them, Ahmed said.

"The whole area is affected," he said. "The situation is deteriorating."

The FAO is calling for domestic food purchases in areas where harvests are expected to be favorable and food aid imports elsewhere, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The World Food Program is now feeding 1.2 million drought victims, "but fears this figure could more than double to 2.5 million," Dujarric said.

The food situation in Somalia and eastern Kenya is particularly serious, the FAO said. Ahmed said local newspapers, citing Kenyan medical officials, have reported at least 30 famine-related deaths.

The government of Kenya has said its efforts to distribute food to famine-stricken areas in its north have been hampered by the nation's nomadic culture and poor infrastructure. President Mwai Kibaki has declared a national disaster.

In Somalia, the secondary rainy season from October to December failed in most of the eight agricultural regions in the south, "resulting in widespread crop failure" that could be the worst in a decade, the agency said.

The country of 7 million that has not had an effective government since clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Warlords then turned on each other . . .

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Study: Congo Humanitarian Crisis the Worst

By TODD PITMAN

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - War-ravaged Congo is suffering the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis, with 38,000 people dying each month mostly from easily treatable diseases, a study published Friday in Britain's leading medical journal said.

Nearly 4 million people died between 1998-2004 alone - the indirect result of years of ruinous fighting that has brought on a stunning collapse of public health services, the study in the Lancet concluded.

The majority of deaths were due to disease rather than violence, but war has cut off or reduced access to health services for millions in the impoverished nation about one-quarter the size of the United States.

Most deaths reported were due to "preventable and easily treatable diseases," the study said. Malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections and malnutrition topped the list.

Major fighting ended in Congo in 2002 but the situation remains dire because of continued insecurity, poor access to health care and inadequate international aid. The problems are particularly acute in eastern Congo.

"Rich donor nations are miserably failing the people of (Congo), even though every few months the mortality equivalent of two southeast Asian tsunamis plows through its territory," the study said . . .
90% of Americans have more food than they need. Food gets thrown away every day. The percentage of Americans who are overweight is astounding and shameful. We as a people have a stain on our soul for every human who starves and dies as we rip through our Big Macs and chili cheese fries.

(Photo © UN/DPI, Eskinder Debebe)