Famine looms in southern Madagascar, U.N.’s food agency says

A vegetable vendor in the village market wearing her face mask with a background image of schoolchildren donning face masks and maintaining physical distancing at school. Antananarivo, Madagascar. (Photo: Alexander Joe)

GENEVA, April 30 (Reuters) - Famine is looming in southern Madagascar, where children are "starving" after drought and sandstorms ruined harvests, the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

Amer Daoudi, senior director of WFP operations globally, speaking from Antananarivo, Madagascar, said he had visited villages where people had resorted to eating locusts and leaves.

“I witnessed horrific images of starving children, malnourished, and not only the children – mothers, parents and the populations in villages we visited,” Daoudi told a United Nations briefing in Geneva.

“They are on the periphery of famine, these are images I haven’t seen for quite some time across the globe,” he said.

Malnutrition has almost doubled to 16% from 9% in March 2020 following five consecutive years of drought, exacerbated this year by sandstorms and late rains, he said.

WFP is seeking $75 million to cover emergency needs in the next few months, he added. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)


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