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MRM Charity Foundation launches food aid campaign for poverty-stricken Niger

posted on 10/06/2005: 1159 views

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Foundation has announced a large-scale food aid campaign for Niger where an estimated three million people are going hungry due to drought and locust attacks.

Ibrahim Bu Melha, Vice-Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Foundation, stated to the media ,Wednesday, that the foundation would airlift aid materials including basic food items and clothes to the West African nation within the next two days.

He urged people to donate generously for the cause through the foundation's bank accounts: 01-50-54359-8 with National Bank of Dubai and 01-520-8733333-01 with Dubai Islamic Bank. "We prefer donations in cash because this will help us buy the most needed food items for the poverty-stricken people. However, residents can also donate food items like rice, sugar, dates, cooking oil and milk powder in addition to clothes," said Bu Melha.

He noted that the food aid campaign was in line with the directives of Sheikh Mohammed and in response to a plea by the Niger government which issued "an anguished appeal to the international community for emergency food aid." Bu Melha added that the campaign was being organized in coordination with other charity organizations such as the Dubai Charity Association which has already donated 250 tones of rice and that several companies and private establishments have donated large quantities of foodstuff.

Besides, individuals like Mohammed Saeed Al Ghaith, Abdul Rahim Al Zaruni and Jamal Al Ghurair have also come forward with large-scale donations in cash and kind. "We appeal to the magnanimous people of the UAE to extend a helping hand to the needy people of Niger in a bid to alleviate their sufferings. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation, as always, steps in to help people in need in different parts of the world," he said.

Bu Melha noted that the foundation would soon undertake a field study to identify the worst affected areas in Niger and deliver the aid there. It has already set up an operations room to coordinate relief efforts.

News reports point out that last week up to 2,000 people marched in Niamey to demand free food for people in the dusty interior, so hungry they have been driven to eat wild plants and scavenge in anthills for leftover scraps. Niger is ranked the world's second poorest country by the UN, with 63 percent of its 12 million people living on less than a dollar a day.

But life has been even harder since last year, when swarms of hungry locusts and lack of rain caused the loss of about 15 percent of Niger's average cereal production and almost 40 percent of its livestock.

Non-Government-Organizations say one out of five children are at risk of serious malnutrition in southern parts of the country. Some six million people across West Africa's semi-arid Sahel region face famine after last year's invasion of locusts and drought destroyed their crops and grazing land. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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