Rome: With the world scrambling to rescue 12 million people on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa, UN emergency official Cristina Amaral said the fact that children are dying of hunger is `immoral`.
As head of emergency operations in Africa for the UN`s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Amaral has been warning about the crisis facing the drought-stricken region since November, after the rainy season failed.
Now she says it`s not enough for donor countries to stump up some cash for immediate food aid - there needs to be long-term investment to help farmers resist droughts and international mediation to bring peace to war-torn Somalia.
“When we have a declaration of famine in the 21st century, we should consider this immoral,” Amaral said in an interview as she prepared for emergency talks at FAO in Rome on Monday aimed at coordinating the aid effort.
Ministers, aid chiefs and charities are meeting to discuss ways of stepping up food supplies and delivering them to the epicentre of the famine in southern Somalia, much of which is under the control of Islamist militants.
“Without access to south Somalia, we`re only seeing the tip of the iceberg - those refugees arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia,” Amaral said. “There are many more - we estimate 3.7 million - that need emergency assistance,” she added.