Niger Faces Worst Hunger Crisis Ever

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While the flood devastation in Pakistan captures the world's attention, another crisis is looming -- one that is placing nearly 8 million people at risk. The United Nations says the African country of Niger is facing the worst hunger crisis in its history.

Some humanitarian aid workers have called it a famine because the situation is worse than the hunger crisis that hit the former French colony in 1973 and again in 2005.

The U.N.'s World Food Program said at least 7.3 million people are in desperate need of food, which equals half the country's population. Crops have failed and livestock have died.

Facing extreme hunger, many people have resorted to eating leaves and berries.

"It's a disaster," said Raya Sahi. "In our village and all those around us don't have any food. It's been more than 3 weeks since I've even seen a single seed."

While many areas are dealing with flooding from torrential rains, Niger remains drought stricken. Several recent surveys taken throughout the country indicate16.7 percent of children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished. The U.N. declares a food emergency when the percentage exceeds 15 percent.

"It is the small children, those under 2 who suffer the worst consequences," said Guido Cornale, Niger representative for UNICEF. "There is a vicious cycle between malnutrition and sickness. A sick child doesn't eat and an undernourished child gets sick more often."

Yacouba Seydou, director of Operation Blessing Niger, explained what caring Christians and others can do to help alleviate the suffering.

"There is nothing that can take the place of prayer," Seydou said. "We also need to act. We need to pray that God show us what to do. But I believe what Operation Blessing is doing already is a God given tool to help us in this famine. So, if we can help I would say this is really the time to do it."

Related Link:

Operation Blessing

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