The UN says millions of lives could be destroyed unless $1.5 billion in aid is channeled in immediately, but governments have pledged less than half the required sum. The countries who can make all the difference are the US, Japan, France and Germany, but they're stalling -- that's why I started a petition on Avaaz's Community Petitions website to appeal to the world for help.
In days, world leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss the Sahel -- if they decide right there and then to pledge their fair share, we can avert disaster. Sign this urgent petition now -- Avaaz, Africans Act 4 Africa, and Oxfam will deliver it in a coordinated stunt when we reach 1 million signatures:
Terrible drought, political unrest, and sky high food prices have wreaked havoc on an area the size of the US, stretching from Senegal in the west all the way to Sudan in the east. People here are doing everything they can to survive, but the crisis has hit so hard that it's difficult to stay hopeful. I've seen women and children trying to grow food in patches of land that are bone dry. They know that people are talking about what is happening in the Sahel, but they don't know if aid will ever arrive.
The UN has only received 43 percent of the $1.5 billion needed -- it's a shortfall of gargantuan proportions. But this gap must be filled, and can be filled by the world's richest countries, if there's political will. We don't have much time to avert mass suffering, and I'm determined to speak on behalf of the people here until they get the help they need.
The world has turned a blind eye to crises like this before, but this time we can make the difference between life and death by forcing our governments to respond. Sign this urgent petition now:
Avaaz members have come together time and time again to respond to natural disasters, saving thousands of lives by ensuring that crucial aid was delivered to Burma, Haiti, Somalia and Pakistan. We have the power to force our leaders to stop idling away in the face of a crisis we can prevent. Let's stand together now to demand that the world respond to the pleas of the millions living in the vast Sahel region.
With hope and determination,
Baaba Maal, with the Avaaz team
A distress call from Africa's Sahel: Millions might starve (CNN)
UN: 18 Million in West Africa to Go Hungry in 2012 (The Associated Press)
Meeting of like minds can save the hungry millions in Sahel (Sydney Morning Herald)
Baaba Maal: people in the Sahel region need food and water now (The Guardian)
Coming weeks critical to tackle Sahel hunger – U.N. humanitarian chief (AlertNet)
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