West Africa on Brink of Food Crisis as Ebola Continues: UN Expert

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    UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, has warned that as Ebola continues to ravage West Africa, the region is now on the brink of a major food crisis.

    Elver said this in a statement on Tuesday in Geneva.

    “While the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis struggle to contain the devastating virus, they now face a new challenge with experts predicting that over a million people in the region need food aid to allay shortages.

    “Farmers in West Africa have been severely affected by this crisis, with fear and panic resulting in many having abandoned their farms, this in turn has led to a disruption in food production and a soaring rise in food prices,’’ she noted.

    According to her, agriculture is the main economic activity in West Africa with two thirds of the population dependent on farming.

    “The closure of border and sea crossings, a reduction in regional trade, along with a decline in foreign investment.

    “Diminished purchasing power of tens of thousands of already vulnerable households, leaves these countries in a precarious situation in relation to food security and access to an adequate and nutritional diet,’’ she said.

    Elver also expressed her deep concern at reports suggesting that in some cases, communities were facing food shortages due to poor road accessibility, while others had been threatening to evade quarantine because of lack of food supplies.

    “In situations where governments have imposed quarantine on communities or requested for self-quarantine, access to food should be strictly ensured,’’ she added.

    The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to do everything in its power to ensure that the already existing food shortages in these countries were mitigated.

    He added that measures must be taken with immediate effect to restore infrastructure and ensure food security to stricken communities.

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