MATCH DAY AGAINST HUNGER: THE ALARM ON THE SAHEL CRISIS
How to win the match against hunger
How do you feel when you are hungry? Weak. Tired. Unable to concentrate, study, play or work. So what do you do? You grab something to eat.
It sounds so easy, but, one in seven people on this planet doesn't have anything to grab.... They have no money to buy or to grow food. They suffer from hunger.
This is what is now happening in the Sahel region of West Africa (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad). People there are facing the consequences of a combination of drought, poor harvests and soaring food prices.
Nearly 16 million people are affected, half of which are at risk, the risk of dying from hunger. Five countries declared states of emergency and asked the world for help.
The most vulnerable are the more than one million children, many of them under two years of age. If these children do not get help in time, their mental and physical development will be stunted, even if they physically survive.
So, imagine, what about their dreams? Don't you think a child in the Sahel dreams about becoming another Seydou Keita from Mali, John Obi Mikel from Nigeria, or Alain Traore from Burkina Faso?
It is true that the EU and the UN are already active in the Sahel region trying to avert the worst. The European Commission has mobilised €123 million in humanitarian aid to help 6 million people escape starvation.
But even this will not be enough if we want avoid a repeat of the catastrophe last year in the Horn of Africa. We need more help, more attention and more awareness to save more lives.
This is why the European Commission has joined the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) in the 'Professional Football Against Hunger' campaign.
Professional football has the power to mobilise the public awareness that we need.
During the 3rd European Match Day Against Hunger, from 30 March until 2 April, over 300 football clubs in 20 leagues across 16 European countries will dedicate their matches to the Sahel crisis, sending the message that urgent action is needed now.
They will reach millions of fans, from Glasgow to Goteborg, from Moscow to Madrid.
This is also why the two of us, a European Commissioner for humanitarian aid, and a professional footballer and FAO Goodwill Ambassador, have joined forces and appeal to you.
You can also reach out yourself. Join the team. Tell your friends, tell your colleagues. Sign the petition at endinghunger.org. Or you may donate a small amount to an aid organisation in your country that works in the Sahel. With as little as €20, one child can be brought out of hunger and malnutrition in a few weeks time.
It is important that we do not stay silent when our fellow humans are dying of hunger. Because the suffering of any human being diminishes all of us. It's our responsibility to speak up and help. Together we can save lives and win the match against hunger.
Kristalina Georgieva (European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Crisis Response and International Cooperation)
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