Caritas Keeps Up Efforts for Starvation Victims in Sahel

Plea for Darfur Region in Sudan Also Made

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 14, 2005 ( The Caritas network in the African region of the Sahel is continuing its efforts to relieve the effects of starvation among peoples of the region, especially in Mali and Niger.

A harvest is expected to begin in October, and experts estimate that the long period of famine is coming to an end. In the meantime, Caritas in Mali and Niger continue to assist those at highest risk, such as malnourished children and expectant or nursing mothers.

Caritas-Niger, part of the network of Catholic relief groups, reckons that it has already distributed 32 tons of cereals to peoples in 25 localities affected by the famine. The Sahel is in north central Africa, south of the Sahara.

In 88 other localities, Caritas has distributed 218 tons of grain as part of the «food for work» program.

In an effort to combat price-gouging for grain, Caritas placed 299 tons of low-priced cereals in the market, which were acquired for a total of 4,127 families, or 62,570 individuals.

In the area of infant malnutrition, through its local network of centers of nutritional recovery, Caritas is assisting an average of 850 children per week.


Meanwhile, Caritas officials in the famished region of Darfur warned the international community that the Sudanese region could quickly become a forgotten emergency.

A delegation of Action Together by Churches and Caritas Internationalis officials that visited the region in August urged the international community not to turn its focus away from Darfur and appealed to its donors to maintain current funding levels for 2006.

Officials were encouraged recently by a survey that showed malnutrition rates had decreased among the internally displaced persons, only to be alarmed to see that those figures are now increasing in the nearby towns.

Caritas and ACT initiated a joint multimillion-dollar emergency relief program in Darfur in June 2004. Much of their efforts have gone toward assisting nearly 500,000 of the estimated 1.8 million internally displaced persons in 35 camps.

However, an ACT/Caritas survey conducted over the summer in three such camps and the nearby town of Zalingi indicated that new efforts must be made to assist people in the host communities. According to the study, a higher percentage of children in the towns (18.1%) were suffering from malnutrition than those in the three camps (14.5%).

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