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Rights group rings alarm bells over drought, hunger in Madagascar

Amnesty International says urgent aid needed to avert humanitarian crisis in Indian Ocean island

Rodrigue Forku   | 21.05.2021
Rights group rings alarm bells over drought, hunger in Madagascar FILE PHOTO

YAOUNDE, Cameroon

A global rights watchdog Friday urged donors, foreign governments and regional leaders to ramp up aid efforts to avert a potential humanitarian crisis in Madagascar as millions face hunger due to the devastating famine in southern part of the country.

In a statement, Amnesty International said the Indian Ocean island is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years.

“The rights of more than a million people are currently threatened in Southern Madagascar, with thousands at risk of starvation and more than a million struggling to access sufficient quantities of food.

“The situation is dire and there is an immediate need for coordinated regional and global action to help avert what could easily become a human catastrophe,” said Tamara Leger, Amnesty International’s Madagascar Program Advisor.

“Regional leaders and the international community cannot afford to stand by and watch while people die of hunger in Madagascar.”

Leger urged the international community to come together and mobilize resources to help the country in this hour of need.

Amnesty International said it will be releasing a report on the drought in Southern Madagascar, and its human rights impact later this year.

Average annual rainfall has been declining over the last century in the southern part of the country, while average temperatures have increased over the past 15 years, Amnesty International said.

“Based on projected trends, Madagascar is likely to be more severely affected by drought in the future, with further decreasing rainfall, and a continued increase in temperature,” it added.

Last week, the UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), also issued an urgent warning to draw international attention to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.

The UN explained that croplands and pasture in Southern Madagascar have been covered with sand and arable land transformed into wasteland across the region due to semi-arid conditions as well as high levels of soil erosion, deforestation and unprecedented drastic sandstorms.

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