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Millions in Sahel are short on food; aid agencies scrape for cash

April 23, 2012 |  6:42 pm

Foodcrisis

Aid agencies put out an SOS on Monday, saying they have fallen far short on funding to feed people in the Sahel area of West Africa, a shortfall that could lead to millions of people starving.

The four groups -- Action Against Hunger, Oxfam International, Save the Children and World Vision -- say they have raised only $52 million out the $250 million they need to help 6 million people avoid hunger in the Sahel region, south of the Sahara, which has been afflicted by droughts and overgrazing.

Political turbulence in Mali has added to the strain in the area, displacing people and disrupting markets. Desperate for food, women in Chad have been digging through anthills, searching for grains to survive. More than 2,000 severely malnourished children poured into a single feeding center in Chad last month, according to Action Against Hunger.

Fifteen million people are affected by the crisis, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week, calling on the world to "do more -- and do it quickly.”

The U.N. has also fallen short, raising less than half of the projected $724 million required to tackle the crisis, the aid groups said. Food shortfalls are expected to be worst from July through September.

"We have to act now before the crisis reaches its peak when the most vulnerable will be among those dying from preventable hunger and malnutrition," World Vision response manager Chris Palusky said in a statement Monday.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Accompanied by her mother, Zara Mahamat, suffering from malnutrition, diarrhea and fever, receives treatment Wednesday in an intensive care tent at the hospital in N'Gouri, a desert village in Chad. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press

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