Red Cross is calling on New Zealanders to help millions of people facing catastrophic drought and famine in Africa and Yemen.

More than 20 million people in Nigeria, the Horn of Africa and Yemen are facing famine as the region experiences one of the worst droughts in decades. In North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, 1.4 million children are at risk of death from severe malnutrition.

New Zealand Red Cross International Programmes Manager Thomas Gurtner, who spent a decade working in the region, says communities are facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and if it continues, tens of millions of subsistence farmers and livestock owners will be condemned to total destitution, destroying what little development gains have been achieved over the last 20 years.

“It’s not only about preventing tens of thousands of deaths by starvation now, it’s also about preventing future tragedy. Small children and their mothers are most at risk, as starting out in life malnourished will lead to suffering severe health consequences throughout their lives.”

Funds raised will be used to help Red Cross fight malnutrition in children and implement cash for food programmes across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Red Cross has been working for months to help affected communities and is now scaling up its response.

In South Sudan, where ongoing fighting makes it hard to reach those who need help, Red Cross is dropping food parcels from planes. Teams are also working to help communities affected by prolonged conflict, climate and demographic changes, which have contributed to the current famine.

New Zealand Red Cross has a nurse working in South Sudan and will deploy more nurses to mobile health clinics in the coming weeks.

How to help

Donate to Red Cross’ Africa Famine Appeal online or in any Red Cross Shop. 

Find out more information about other ways to donate.