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West Africa: Britain to help a million people survive

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain will help a further million people survive the food crisis in West Africa

Britain will help a further million people survive the food crisis in West Africa, Andrew Mitchell announced today.

Ahead of the President of Niger’s visit to the UK next week, the International Development Secretary warned the crisis is reaching its tipping point with up to 1.5 million children facing imminent starvation in the next month if the world does not take urgent action.

He called on other donors - particularly those with strong links to the drought-stricken region of the Sahel - to follow suit and step up their efforts to avert this looming catastrophe.

Agencies need extra support to treat the effects of acute hunger before the rainy season makes vast swathes of West Africa inaccessible for aid workers. This will happen in as little as four weeks’ time.

Britain’s latest support includes nutritional treatment, health, water and sanitation for a further 31,000 children, and food for a further 170,000 people for six months.

It will also provide animal feed and vaccinations to keep over 280,000 farmers’ livestock alive and seeds and tools for 470,000 families so they will be able to feed themselves next year as well.

Britain is now helping a total of more than 1.4 million people at risk of hunger across Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. More than 100,000 children at risk of starvation in these countries will receive immediate lifesaving treatment.

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said:

“Britain will not sit back while children starve to death in the Sahel.

“We took a lead in tackling the food crisis in East Africa and now is the time for others in the international community to step up.”

A deadly combination of conflict and poor harvests has pushed many families to the brink, with 8 million people in need of urgent assistance now, and with a further 10 million requiring additional support.