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Catastrophe in Africa

The world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years is looming as three African countries are on brink of famine, The Age reports.

United Nations efforts to raise at least $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid from wealthy nations have fallen embarrassingly short. Western leaders – distracted by Donald Trump, terrorism, Middle Eastern turmoil and North Korea – have largely been silent. Normally generous private donors have kept their wallets shut.

New polling conducted for aid agency Caritas has found just 32 per cent of Australians are aware there is a major crisis unfolding in the region.

A third of respondents to last week’s Essential Research poll said they knew nothing about the crisis and a further 29 per cent indicated they had heard there was a problem but did not know any details.

Caritas CEO Paul O’Callaghan has just travelled to Kenya – where three million people are at risk – in an effort to raise awareness among his donors.

He found once-productive farmland turned to wasteland by protracted drought. He saw children weakened by severe malnutrition. Distraught parents who can do little but ration their meagre supplies and pray for rain.

“Those kids will probably be dead by the end of the year,” he says. “It’s looking extremely bleak.

“We just haven’t found – even across our normal donor base – there was much awareness of this even though we know our donors have very big hearts and would normally respond to something like this.”

“In 1984, the Ethiopian famine had a really huge response from the Australian community. It was a very large, private donation response – and that was sustained by saturation media coverage of that at the time,” O’Callaghan says.

“What’s different 30 years later?


The humanitarian catastrophe Australians know nothing about (The Age)

Africa emergency appeal (Caritas Australia)