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Army assists in famine relief

As terrible famine spreads throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the people of Lesotho fear they live in a forgotten country. The Salvation Army is working to let them know they are not forgotten.

In April, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) made an international appeal for help in the tiny kingdom in the middle of South Africa after the Lesotho government declared a state of emergency. But the lack of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) willing to implement the distribution has slowed assistance. In response to this mounting crisis, The Salvation Army is now working with the local government’s disaster management office to distribute monthly rations to more than 5,000 families (20,000 people) in the northern district of Butha Buthe. Food stocks have been released and Major David Ramsay, an international emergency services office consultant, has been seconded from International Head-quarters in London to work with South African colleagues to make sure these “forgotten” people receive the help they so desperately need.

Diane Bosch of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that Lesotho faces an “invisible emergency.” In rural areas, well-constructed houses funded by family members working in South Africa’s mines hide the fact that inside are people suffering from starvation.

Almost 650,000 people–almost a third of Lesotho’s total population–are already in need of food aid following a second year of severe weather and poor harvests. The famine is being widely felt across the whole country.

The Army launched an international appeal for sub-Saharan famine relief in June and now supports emergency programs in eight African countries: Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Liberia, Angola and Zimbabwe.

As the rainy season approaches and household food reserves come to an end, The Salvation Army is determined that the suffering people, whether they come from a large or a small country, do not become the “forgotten.”

Major Cedric Hills
International Emergency Services Office

Donations for sub-Sarahan famine relief may be sent to Western Territorial Headquarters (The Salvation Army, 180 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, Calif. 90802-4707) earmarked “Sub-Saharan Famine Relief.”

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