Several African Nations on Brink of Starvation

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The United Nations is asking the world to help millions of West Africans who are facing a crisis of epic proportions. The people in the Sahel region of West Africa are on the brink of starvation. At least 3 million of them are children.

A tiny village in Niger is the starkest example of the hunger that grips eight African countries bordering the Sahara Desert. Families in this area depend on farming, but severe drought has resulted in crop failure.

Huts normally used to store grain are empty, leaving mothers like Mariama struggling to feed their families. On this day, she's left to pick wild leaves from trees.

"I don't think any of us can accept that this mother had to go and pick wild food for her children to eat," Denise Brown, with the World Food Program, said. "If she doesn't go and do it every day, then they don't have anything to eat."

Aid agencies are doing what they can to deliver food to the region, but so far they have not been able to raise even half the money needed to help the millions in need.

Even more people could run out of food before the next fall harvest.

A little girl named Nafissa is being treated at a health clinic where doctors weigh, measure, and monitor the nutritional survival of the children here. She's a year old, but she weighs just eight pounds - about the size of a newborn baby in the United States.

A red armband on one of these children means severe malnutrition. Doctors say they are seeing more and more red bands every day. Three million children are already on the brink of starvation, and 18 million people are in danger.

Brown urged the people of the world to get involved, saying, "These people, these women, these children, they deserve our attention, they deserve our time."

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