NZ contributes to UN's Niger appeal

NZAID, the government's international aid and development agency, will make an immediate contribution of $500,000 to the United Nations' appeal for Niger, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.
"The situation in Niger is dire with almost one third of Niger's 12 million inhabitants directly affected by poor harvests following devastating locust invasions in 2004 and 2005," Marian Hobbs said. "Over 800,000 children under the age of five are severely affected by the food shortage and 150,000 are now badly undernourished.

"Niger warned last November that drought and the locust plague that swept across the region south of the Sahara had wiped out harvests and would hit the food supplies of more than three million people.

"Our contribution for Niger will be made to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) which will ensure nutritious and appropriate food aid gets to those who need it most."

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly half of its 11 million people are under 16 years of age. Deforestation and the encroaching desert threaten its environment.

"It is an often forgotten country," Marian Hobbs said. "New Zealand has responded to the UN appeal. No human being can turn their head and heart away from such starvation."