AU responds to Sahel food crisis

July 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 (UPI) -- The African Union Commission announced it would donate $450,000 to help humanitarian relief operations in central Africa.

Members of the African Union met this week to discuss crises involving the Sahel region of Africa.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said a food and nutrition situation in the region is deteriorating rapidly. The aftermath of the 2011 civil war in Libya, meanwhile, created security complications in the region as armed fighters and criminal gangs returned home with large quantities of weapons, notably in Mali.

"The humanitarian needs in the Sahel are immense and the time for action is now," WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said in a statement. "We are extremely grateful for the timely involvement of the AUC."

The United Nations estimates more than 15 million people are facing food shortages and malnutrition due to a lingering drought. More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year and more than 1 million children are threatened.

WFP said it aimed to provide more than 10 million people in the region with food assistance by the end of the year.

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