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Hurricane Katrina overshadows suffering in Africa

Don't forget the humanitarian crises in Africa!

Göttingen, September 6, 2005

In spite of the terrible pictures from New Orleans the victims of humanitarian crises in Africa should not be forgotten, says the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV). The Africa correspondent of the human rights organisation, Ulrich Delius, drew attention on Tuesday to the fact that each week 1000 children, women and men die as the result of war, exhaustion, illnesses and mal-nutrition in the war areas in the north of Uganda. "Although more than 30,000 refugees of the war had to die from violence and lack of care, hardly anyone is interested in their fate." The nomads too in the Niger region threatened by starvation need urgently even more help. "Almost every day we receive calls for help from the Tuareg. They are desperate because their herds of cattle have died", reports Delius. "Tens of thousands of Tuareg and Peul nomads are in the Sahel area with absolutely nothing. Without long-term aid these peoples face disaster."

Even the recent rainfalls have not changed the catastrophic situation of the nomads in the Sahel area who live from animal husbandry. Since their herds have for the most part perished they have lost their means of existence. The corn harvest, which is now beginning, is for the cattle-breeders of little help in the long run. They need special help programmes to build up again their herds. "But if public opinion in the world is not interested in the plight of the Tuareg and Peul, there will be no long-term assistance programmes for these nomad people, who are threatened with extinction", warned Delius.

The forgotten conflict in the north of Uganda is one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world. Some 1,6 million people had to leave their villages on the orders of the Ugandan authorities to seek refuge in the refugee camps guarded by the army against attacks from the rebels of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). But instead of shelter, the situation they find is catastrophic. Instead of protecting the refugees, soldiers of the regular army of Uganda plunder and rape them. Inadequate provision of food and medicine causes increasing desperation among the refugees. So in one refugee camp alone 15 persons committed suicide in July.

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