Charities Band Together over African Famine
Kelbie, Paul, The Independent (London, England)
BRITAIN'S LEADING aid charities will launch a joint appeal today to save the lives of more than 14 million people facing starvation in seven southern African countries.
Aid workers say they fear a humanitarian disaster as time runs out for the victims of drought, floods, political instability and poor harvests in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Angola.
Judith Lewis, the World Food Programme's (WFP) director for east and southern Africa, said the "window of opportunity to avert a major crisis was closing".
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which unites 13 leading British aid agencies such as the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid to co-ordinate and maximise income from the British public at times of major disasters overseas, is to spearhead the campaign to supply emergency provisions and agricultural assistance to those countries in desperate need.
Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, said: "We are seeking to fund a major aid operation in a bid to avert a catastrophic famine in the region over the coming months. The appeal will help fund health programmes, distribution of seeds and tools to subsistence farmers, and food aid for the most vulnerable.
"There is still time to prevent the worst case scenario of death on a massive scale."
The operation, which has the backing of Tony Blair will work in conjunction with similar appeals in the United States other countries. Mr Blair said yesterday: "I am very concerned by the prospect of serious food shortages in southern Africa. …