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Government urged to relieve malnutrition caused by global conflict

29 April 2022


Two villagers, Zawadi Msafiri and Caroline, view their withered maize crop in Kidemu, in Kilifi county, Kenya, at the end of March

Two villagers, Zawadi Msafiri and Caroline, view their withered maize crop in Kidemu, in Kilifi county, Kenya, at the end of March

FIFTEEN international-aid organisations have called on the UK Government to play its part in helping to alleviate malnutrition around the world.

In an open letter published on Monday, the coalition says that the war in Ukraine is causing “suffering far beyond its border, including through the twin impact of rising food and energy costs”. As a result, it says, “The UK must play a leading role in responding both to the urgent needs of Ukraine and of those people around the world who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”

Christian Aid’s interim chief executive, Patrick Watt, is one of the signatories. In a statement, he said that the conflict in Ukraine had “created collateral damage for fragile and war-torn countries like Yemen and Lebanon that rely on the region for resources, not least wheat imports”.

Among the signatories to the open letter are representatives of Tearfund and World Vision, as well as the British Red Cross, Save the Children, and Oxfam.

The letter says: “Even before the crisis, the UN’s World Food Programme reported that 3 million children a year died from malnutrition — one every ten seconds.”

Its recommended actions include a reversal of the cuts to international aid made in 2021. At the time, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: “It is not right that the world’s poorest should be the only ones to suffer from a reduction in spending following the pandemic” (News, 14 July 2021).

The letter concludes: “We should see hope in the generous and welcoming public response to people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. The UK Government must match the spirit of the British public’s response to the DEC Ukraine appeal and look beyond the borders of Europe.”

Christian Aid and World Vision are among the organisations that have been active in Ukraine since the start of the crisis. World Vision has focused on the needs of children fleeing the war, helping to provide them with psychological first aid (News 25 March).

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