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Minister urges help for Africa

Rich countries should help starving children in West Africa in the same way Britain led efforts to feed youngsters in Somalia, Andrew Mitchell has said.

The International Development Secretary called on well-off nations to fund famine relief in Sahel, as he announced £5 million of British aid for 68,000 hungry children in Chad, Mali and Niger.

Mr Mitchell said 6.8 million people risked starvation in Sahel because there has been little rain, crops have failed, there is insufficient grazing land for animals and food prices at local markets are too high.

"Britain acted quickly in the Horn of Africa and I strongly urge similarly swift leadership from our partners in the Sahel," he added.

"We know this crisis is coming and Britain is responding early to warning signs.

"We are acting now to help thousands of people who are facing a severe food crisis. Our aid will help feed children in desperate need and keep vital livestock alive.

"British support will help those in the most immediate danger but other nations must take up the baton to ensure the international response is fast and effective.

"We then need to improve conditions for these people to withstand future droughts."

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