If you have followed my travels or have read my blog over the years you know that Ethiopia is my favorite country in the world. There is something about the people, the culture, its beauty and the sheer size of the country I love. Even though I love Ethiopia I have never been under a grand illusion that it is a unified country. There have been mass arrests and killings in Oromia, journalist and freedom fighter imprisonments, and now a civil war with mass atrocities and forced starvation against the people of the Tigray region. In fact, just this week reports of an airstrike on a market near Tigray’s capital Mekele killed at least 64 people and wounded over 100.
Even as war is still happening in Ethiopia’s northernmost region, its national election officially wrapped on Monday without voting in Tigray, of course. Now, ballots are being tallied across the country with the likelihood that the current prime minister Abiy Ahmend will be reelected.
If you read this blog enough you know that there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat on a consistent basis; not even enough to live a healthy lifestyle. The vast majority of this 795 million people live in low- and middle-income countries. Sadly, nearly 100 million children are underweight because they do not have enough sustaining food every day.
A new social endeavor start-up is working to change these statistics in their own way. Cuddle+Kind, a company that creates adorable hand-knit dolls for kids also provides meals for children through the World Food Programme and Children’s Hunger Fund with every purchase. Their ambitious, yet achievable goal is to provide one million meals for children every year.
Last Friday France began strategic airstrikes in northern Mali against rebel groups that have crippled the government since the early part of last year. France has said its intervention will be swift. The United States has already given its support to France saying it will provide intelligence and overhead surveillance according to NBC News. Britain has also pledged its support with logistical assistance.
The United Nations’ Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was briefed about the situation on the ground in Mali last Saturday by the President of Côte d’Ivoire and Chair of ECOWAS, Mr. Alassane Ouattara. And on January 10, Mohammad Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of January, spoke to journalists following closed-door Council consultations on the situation in Mali (above).
“These latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of the resolution, including support to ECOWAS mediation efforts, the development of a consensual roadmap for the transition and provision of support to AFISMA and the Malian defence forces, said the Secretary-General.
Due to the fighting a humanitarian crisis will undoubtedly grow. The World Food Programme has already said it is prepared to provide food assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons who flee the fighting. And the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said over 300,000 people are spilling over the borders in Burkina Faso and Nigeria. The UNHCR has launched an appeal to the public to help as many people as possible.
Follow the most recent news about Mali on Twitter at #Mali.
It sounds seemingly impossible, but there is yet another area of Africa that is under threat of a food shortage due to erratic rains during the growing season. While the Sahel is still experiencing food shortages, southern Africa is now joining ranks with the northwestern part of the continent.
According to the World Food Programme, 3.5 million people are living in drought-hit areas in Malawi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe and are in need of food assistance. The hunger season lasts from December through March.
“Large numbers of smallholder farmers and their families are in the grip of what is set to be one of the harshest hunger seasons of recent years,” says Brenda Barton, WFP Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa. “With the help of governments, donors and regional organizations, we’re mobilizing resources to help the most vulnerable, not only with food distributions but also with innovative solutions like cash transfers via mobile phones so people can buy their own food.”
1.8 million people are receiving food assistance
200,000 people are receiving food assistance
1.6 million people are receiving food and cash assistance
What can you do to help? You can donate securely on the World Food Programme web site. There is currently a $4 million emergency operation shortfall in Lesotho and a $14 million shortfall in Malawai, so every donation counts.