For those of us over a certain age, Michael Burke’s report on the Ethiopian famine in October 1984 is one of the most harrowing pieces ever witnessed on television.
We would hope that as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, a famine on this earth would be a thing of the past.
Before last week there had been only one certified famine globally since 2000. Now, parts of South Sudan are in famine, and there is a credible risk of another three famines in Yemen, north east Nigeria and Somalia.
It is right that the British government is taking a lead in providing help to those who find themselves in desperate need.
Last week in the House of Commons I received assurances from the International Development Secretary that the focus is on emergency food and water for over a million people. Priti Patel outlined action that the UK will be taking to prevent some of the poorest people on earth starving to death.
Britain is a generous country – the Department for International Development is of course funded by UK taxpayers. This does not give licence to wasteful spending, however. DFID recently confirmed that it does not give money to the South Sudanese government; instead working directly with partners including the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.
UK aid will provide food assistance for half a million people in South Sudan alone, and safe drinking water for over 300,000. Emergency health services, life-saving nutritional assistance and livelihood support will also be provided.
The British Government are calling on other donor countries to step up as well, to play their own part in addressing these urgent situations.
If you would like to donate, please visit: https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/south-sudan/
Henry Smith MP