Malawi Urged to Act as Deadly Famine Sinks In

Religious in Lilongwe Issue a Plea

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LILONGWE, Malawi, FEB. 18, 2002 ( Religious of the Lilongwe Diocese say the government should declare the famine in Malawi a national disaster, the Misna agency reported.

«In numerous parishes, the elderly drag themselves with difficulty to the churches where they sit and say they are prepared for death,» the religious said in a statement. «In some areas, such as the Dowa district, people eat only leaves and roots.»

«In the village of Nauchi, Madisi, a mother and son were killed, poisoned,» the statement added. «They were the only ones who still had a bit of food and because of this, were envied by all. In Kabunzi alone, there are at least seven people already dead because of famine, but to estimate how many are dying in the rural areas is, for the time being, impossible.»

«In Lilongwe, the number of children who prefer to flee from the villages and live on the streets is increasing daily,» the religious explained. «To work in exchange for food is no longer possible.»

Given the situation, the religious have appealed to the government of this southern African nation to establish strict price controls. Corn is in short supply, and people spend whole nights in line to buy a few kilos.

«We are doing everything we possibly can to help the needy, with the very few means we have available, but our efforts are not enough to halt the tragedy,» the statement by the religious concluded.

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