Northern residents called on to assist in food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa

(Prince George, August 4, 2005) ? Calling upon Northern B.C. and Yukon residents to show the same generosity displayed after the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the Canadian Red Cross is appealing for funds to assist the almost 8 million people currently threatened by severe food shortages in the Western Sahel region of Africa.

The countries hardest hit by this crisis include Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. The famine, brought on by two years drought in the region, coupled with the worst locust invasion in 20 years, has led to widespread malnutrition.

In Niger, the UN has found that 3.6 million of the country?s 12 million people are directly affected by the food crisis. In the Tahoua and Maradi regions, the rate of severe malnutrition is 3 and 7% respectively, and the rate of moderate malnutrition is 30 to 40%. In Niger alone, 800,000 children are going without food.

Donations can be made at any Red Cross office; by mailing a cheque or money order earmarked ?Africa: Western Sahel Food Crisis? to Canadian Red Cross, 1399 Sixth Avenue, Prince George, B.C., V2L 5L6; by calling, toll-free, 1-800-418-1111; or online at www.redcross.ca