Three years ago I was on a trip of a lifetime. I joined a global team of journalists for a two-week reporting fellowship in Ethiopia where we covered the progress Ethiopia has made in newborn and maternal health. The trip was life-changing in so many ways. It opened my eyes to extreme poverty and hunger. I realized how much I take for granted: Access to electricity, running water, safe drinking water, food, health care, education and opportunity. The basic necessities that people need to survive.
I made a promise to myself as a global citizen and humanitarian that I will never turn a blind eye. I will continue to advocate and use my voice on my blog to bring awareness to issues happening around the world especially ones that are not covered as much by the press.
On July 18th, eight of the world’s leading U.S.-based international relief organizations joined forces for the first time to launch a joint fundraising appeal, the Hunger Relief Fund, to the American public to respond to an unprecedented hunger crisis and to save millions of lives. The Global Emergency Response Coalition (GERC) was formed in response to starvation threatening more than 20 million people in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and neighboring countries.
The Global Emergency Response Coalition is comprised of CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision. Partners including BlackRock, Google, PepsiCo, Twitter and Visa are working with the Global Emergency Response Coalition to help raise awareness and funds during the two-week appeal. The PepsiCo Foundation and BlackRock also will each generously match donations up to $1 million.
Tragically, children are impacted even more by the crisis. Over 1.4 million children in these countries are severely malnourished and at risk of death without immediate help. In 2011, we faced a similar multi-country food shortage crisis and the international community failed to act in time. Over 258,000 people died in Somalia alone in which over half were children. We cannot let this happen again. Although there has been some media coverage, public awareness of this global crisis is low and there is simply not enough funding to meet the level of urgent need our organizations are facing on the ground.
“Drought, displacement and conflict have converged with alarming consequences,” according to the chief executive officers of the organizations in the Global Emergency Response Coalition. “In the 21st century, innocent children should not be dying from hunger. People caught in this crisis are generously opening their homes and sharing what little they have, but they have run out of time and resources — they need our help now.”
In Yemen, a child under five dies every 10 minutes because of the lack of food and basic resources. In South Sudan, families have been forced to flee their homes and are surviving on water lilies alone while hiding in swamps. In Somalia, teenagers walk for hours just to get enough water to last their families one day. In Nigeria, there have been reports of people eating sand to ward off starvation. Families are dying not only from hunger, but also from diseases such as cholera and measles because they lack clean water and sanitation.
The Global Emergency Response Coalition will use Hunger Relief Fund donations to help those already going hungry and on the brink of famine survive and lay the groundwork for recovery. The coalition is comprised of CARE, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision. Together, these organizations are working in 106 countries to reach millions of the world’s most vulnerable people with urgent assistance such as food, water, shelter, education and medical care, as well as resources to build resilience to future food crises.
“We can make a difference together and give people who are suffering more than food and resources. We can give them hope and show them they’re not invisible — and they’re not alone,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.
The appeal runs through July 28th, 2017. To learn more and donate, click here.
The above information was provided to me by the Global Emergency Response Organization. To learn more, please visit: www.globalemergenceyresponse.org