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Greatest food crisis in recent years



More than three million on the brink of starving to death in Niger

17/08/2005: Nigeria

Niger, population 11,000,000, a country covering 1,186,400 sq. km. in the Sahel, is living through its worst food crisis in the last twenty years. 3.6 million are suffering from malnutrition. Jean Ziegler, UN expert on the right to food, states, “People are dying of starvation. As always, the groups most at risk are the weakest – infants, the sick, and the elderly. At least 800,000 babies in dire need. Ziegler tells of a dispensary where, in a single week, he witnessed the deaths of 14 of the 61 seriously malnourished infants. The organization “Médecins sans Frontières” states that an authentic slaughter stretches as far as the eye can see. Many children who ought to weigh 15 to 17 pounds actually weigh only half that much, and this leads to irreparable brain damage that will only become apparent in the future and have serious consequences on their lives. Not only NGOs but the UN itself has accused the government of not wanting to distribute the best supplies that it stores for those dying from hunger. The International Monetary Fund is also faulted for prohibiting governments from freely distributing food and medical supplies to their people. Naturally President Niamey has had to comply with these restrictions in order to qualify for funding “to relaunch the country’s economy.” A decision certainly at odds with recent declarations coming out of the G8 meetings in Britain about dramatically reducing poverty in Africa. For Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, where subsistence farming – millet, sorghum, manioc – accounts for 80% of the workforce, this is a crisis that will have many serious repercussions.
In line with the guidelines of the G8, why don’t those who control vast stockpiles of uranium, give up a part of their large profits, and without suffering any economic downturn, strive to better the lives of their people?

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