Horror and Hope: The worst humanitarian crisis in 73 years

One and a half million children facing death from hunger. It’s a confronting reality and so it should be. The situation is so dire, UN officials are calling the famine gripping East Africa and Yemen, the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War. The rapidly escalating food crisis unfolding in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, is becoming known as the ‘Four Famines’.

Nobody’s life is worth more than another person’s – we imagine a world where all people, regardless of their gender, race or place of birth, live a free, happy and healthy life.  Opportunities in life shouldn’t be based on the luck of where you’re born. People all over the world share the same hopes and dreams.

Every single life is precious and each day, the famine crisis is worsening. Each day, we see more and more disturbing images filter through in pockets of the media. As horrendous as the situation is, there is hope. The UN has said that $5.8 (AUD) billion is needed by this July to avert a catastrophe. If the global community acts now, we may be able to prevent the worst and help  one and a half million children at risk to have a chance at life.

The f-word is used reluctantly by the UN and has a very specific definition and the following criteria:

  1. Over 20 percent of households don’t get the recommended caloric intake daily
  2. Over 30 percent of people are in a state of malnutrition
  3. There are two deaths per 10,000 people daily

Right now, the world is desperate for courageous leadership. The kind of global leadership we see the Government referring to over and over again. Australia has the ability to lead the way by making a bold announcement of funding and calling on other countries to do the same. Of course, the Government can also continue to stand by, commit to doing the bare minimum and hope Australians don’t notice.

Contrary to the belief of some, this funding is not welfare, it’s justice. The decisions of the developed world have helped cause the climate change that has led to drought and stood by while conflict has deepened in these countries. We have a moral responsibility to act. This emergency money would provide immediate food to children and pregnant women so they can breastfeed infants. It helps to respond to the effects of malnutrition and gives people access to healthcare. This funding helps the next generation of people living through this humanitarian crisis and the ability to make a better future, a reality.

Australians care about others, are compassionate and want to work together with others to rectify injustice and ease suffering.

Will the Australian Government reflect those values or will it stand by while the equivalent of almost the entire population of this country faces a severe food crisis?

There is hope if the global community acts now – if you believe Foreign Minister Julie Bishop needs to act boldly and urgently before it’s too late, join over 15K people and sign this petition that calls on Australia to at least double its current contribution levels: http://australianaid.org/action/famine/

By Tony Milne, Director, Campaign for Australian Aid

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