Countries in West Africa struggling to cope with the devastating outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus are now threatened with a fresh crisis as food stocks run low and starvation becomes a new and dangerous prospect, warns Plan International Australia.
Residents of the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown say food prices are soaring out of control because borders to Liberia and Guinea closed, leaving traders unable to bring food from one to country to another and causing prices to spiral beyond the reach of many. Other countries in the region are reporting similar problems.
“As we mark World Food Day today, the world needs to consider the huge impact the Ebola crisis is having in West Africa – and it’s not just the soaring numbers of those killed by the virus. Food insecurity is a growing threat, and we are gravely concerned for the poorest people in the region, who now face a new crisis,” says Rohan Kent, Disaster Response Manager for Plan International Australia.
“Food stocks are running low in many key areas and we need to act now to ensure the Ebola crisis does not spill over into a devastating food emergency,” Kent says.
Plan International, along with the World Food Program, is ramping up operations in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – where more than 4,000 people have already been killed by the Ebola virus – providing food aid and assistance to more than a million people.
“We are particularly concerned about the impact this emerging food crisis will have on children at such an obviously key stage of their development. Children must not be forgotten in all this,” says Kent. “Many children have lost their parents to Ebola and have been abandoned without shelter or food.”
“As the world focuses on Ebola itself, we also need to be concerned about the risks of infant mortality, low birth weights and many other problems caused by malnutrition,” he says.
Plan International has already been extremely active in the fight against Ebola since this latest outbreak began in March. The Federal Government’s funds will support the training of health workers, the distribution of hygiene kits, maintaining early warning systems, and raising awareness of the prevention of the spread of Ebola through training sessions, public information broadcasts and literature.
Plan will also provide support for the hundreds of children who have been orphaned by the outbreak. In Liberia alone, around 300 children have seen their parents or principal caregivers die from Ebola.
The public can also join the fight against Ebola, by giving to Plan International Australia’s appeal atplan.org.au
“We welcome the government’s support as we work to fight the spread and the impact of Ebola, but we need every shoulder to the wheel if we are going to put an end to this terrifying outbreak – that is why we are appealing to the generosity of Australians everywhere,” Kent says.
“Even a small donation can make a big impact where it’s needed, and together we can put an end to this outbreak that is so devastating some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world,” Kent says.
Relevant photos are available here: https://www.plan.org.au/Media/Media-Releases/20141016-World-Food-Day-Ebola-crisis-fuelling-starvation-threat-says-Plan.aspx. Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’.
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.
Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International in Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945