Millions Face Famine in Kenya

Church Mobilizing to Stave Off a Disaster

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NAIROBI, Kenya, JAN. 9, 2006 ( The Catholic Church has appealed to its faithful and other Kenyans to contribute food and other resources to help the country’s 2.5 million people who face starvation.

In his New Year’s address to the nation, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared the famine a «national disaster» and acknowledged that «in the next six months, up to 2.5 million of our people will be in need of famine relief.»

The government confirmed last Thursday that at least 40 people have already died from hunger, according to the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA).

The Kenyan president attributed the famine to crop failure and depletion of livestock herds due to prolonged drought. He appealed to local and international donors to help the government manage the crisis.

The scarcity of food and water is dramatically affecting areas of the northeast, east, the Rfit Valley and coastal provinces.

Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir, president of the Kenyan episcopal conference, said that the deaths could have been avoided. «Our government should have been more proactive than reactive,» he stressed in a communiqué sent to CISA.

«This calamity could have been averted had the government responded to the early warning systems that predicted the drought,» added the prelate.

«The Catholic Church in Kenya appeals to all our Christians and all people of good will to contribute food, clothes, medicine or any other donations that can help save lives in the affected areas,» he urged.

The Church also appealed to the government «to scale up the resources allocated for this emergency to save lives.»

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