Letter: Crises in Africa reach breaking point
2017-08-04 11:15:34 -
East Africa stands on the brink of what the UN has described as potentially the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

Drought and conflict has left approximately 25 million people reliant on food aid for survival, with shockingly high rates of severe acute malnutrition among children across the affected regions of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.

Governments and humanitarian organisations across the region are responding. Through urgent and robust action, they have helped stave off extreme levels of death from famine that have loomed over east Africa throughout this crisis. But appeals for international support have been met with a wholly insufficient response, and levels of funding across the region are now desperately low.

Humanitarian aid saves lives. South Sudan has been pulled out of famine because of aid. But failed rains, continued conflict, and disastrous outbreaks of cholera mean the situation in South Sudan and Somalia in particular is more desperate now than ever. Without adequate support, the humanitarian crisis across these regions will become a humanitarian catastrophe.

Irish aid agencies are saving lives across the region but to do so until the next harvest will require significant resources. As two of Ireland’s largest development and humanitarian agencies, Concern Worldwide and Trócaire are delivering food, water and healthcare to hundreds of thousands of people in east Africa.

We welcome President Michael D Higgins’ call on the Irish people to respond to this crisis with urgency, compassion, and generosity, and we the urge the Irish public to support our efforts to get aid to people caught in this appalling crisis.

The time to act is now, before it is too late.

Dominic MacSorley, chief executive, Concern Worldwide
Éamonn Meehan, executive director, Trócaire

l President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement has been greeted with a chorus of disapproval around the world.

The move by the world’s second largest polluter to turn its back on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have consequences for everyone, but most especially for Africa’s vulnerable poor.

Africa is the region least responsible for global climate change, and yet it is the one most vulnerable to its effects. Farmers across the continent - where few can afford to irrigate their fields - are particularly at risk from changes in rainfall patterns. In addition, Africa is already suffering the effects of warming rates at nearly twice the global average.

The decision by the US administration to withdraw from an international agreement which seeks to halt global warming is heartbreaking. If there is a silver lining to this storm cloud, it is that the decision may strengthen the resolve of others - national governments across the world, together with civil society in the US - to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ray Jordan, chief executive, Gorta-Self Help Africa
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