Niger

Charities unite to aid Niger

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As 2.5 million people in Niger struggle to survive in the face of acute food shortages the UK's best known charities have announced today that they are joining forces to appeal to the public for help. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Niger Crisis Appeal opens for telephone and online donations today, with TV and radio appeals launching on Tuesday 2 August.

According to the Red Cross, a potentially fatal combination of drought and a locust plague has left almost 8 million people at risk of hunger in Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso -- one of the most neglected and poorest regions in the world. Money raised by the Appeal will enable agencies to deliver aid where it is needed most in the region.

Commenting on the launch of the Appeal, DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said:

"We need the public to donate whatever they can today to help us save lives. DEC members are working together to get urgent supplies of food to those who need it most urgently in Niger and are also scaling up their efforts in the other countries of the Sahel region in West Africa, which are also badly affected. Every second counts."

Niger has been ruined by decades of chronic poverty. Before this current crisis, 40 per cent of children were malnourished and Niger had the second highest global mortality rate amongst children under 5. Acute food shortages are making a dire situation unbearable as millions struggle to deal with the effects of the persistent lack of food, safe water and basic healthcare. Donations to the DEC Appeal will fund member agencies' relief programmes, including the purchase and distribution of food, animal fodder, seeds and medicines.

Donations to the DEC Niger Crisis Appeal can be made at: www.dec.org.uk, or by phoning the Disasters Emergency Committee on 0870 60 60 900. From Tuesday donations can be made by going into any high street post office or bank.

ENDS

For further information:

contact the press office on 020 7387 0200 or 07967 526 885 (out of hours).