Sunday Okobi

The Government of Canada has launched a famine relief fund for Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. More than 20 million people in Northeast Nigeria have been suffering lack of food and other necessities, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk of starvation as a result of severe drought and conflict, while South Sudan is experiencing famine.

Reports have indicated that unless immediate action is taken, others could slide into a similar situation, dire situation analysts have described as unprecedented. The Government of Canada is responding to the crisis and is expected to mobilise its citizens as a response to a global appeal through the creation of the Famine Relief Fund.

Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, who launched the initiative on behalf of the government, stated in a statement yesterday that for every eligible donation made by individual Canadians to registered Canadian charities between March 17 and June 30, 2017, the Government of Canada will contribute an equivalent amount to the Famine Relief Fund. Hunger is having a real impact on young children in particular as some 1.4 million are now at risk of dying of acute malnutrition and disease. Millions across the four affected countries and the neighbouring regions are in need of basic necessities such as urgent food assistance, water, sanitation services, health care, and shelter.

“Over 20 million men, women and children are at risk of starvation if we do not act now. Canadians have always demonstrated great compassion when it comes to humanitarian crises. I encourage all Canadians to donate to the registered Canadian charities of their choice. Together, we can make a difference and bring relief to people who need urgent help,’’ Marie-Claude Bibeau stated.

On March 17, Canada announced $119.25 million in humanitarian funding to respond to food crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Canada was one of the earliest major donors to provide funds for the four affected countries.

On February 22, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, called on the international community to take decisive action to avert further catastrophe in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. This is expected to support Canadian and international organisations currently working hard at providing assistance to those in need in the affected countries and neighbouring regions.