Canada and its international aid organizations are asking Canadians to dig deep to help aid people in East Africa as the worst famine in six decades continues to take its terrible toll.
Canadians have donated $35.8 million so far to various agencies which qualify for government matching funds through Ottawa’s East Africa Drought Relief Fund. But that matching fund window is closing fast.
Donate by midnight Friday and the government will match your donation, dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of your money. (It’s important to know however that the charity you donate to will not get a matching donation from Ottawa, instead the same amount will go into the East Africa Drought Relief Fund and Ottawa will administer that fund as it sees fit.)
UNICEF estimates a child is dying of hunger every six minutes. That is 250 children every day. More than 13 million people are affected by multiple years of drought and the effect of ongoing conflicts.
The photos are heartbreaking. People are fleeing their homes looking for food. Refugee camps are overflowing.
Aid agencies are scrambling to help but don’t have the money they need to do all that is needed.
Save the Children Canada for example wants to provide help and programming for kids under five but so far can only afford to provide it to kids under three.
International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda has acknowledged concerns the funds are being diverted away from those who need it but said what that means is we just need to be smarter and more diligent about how the aid is distributed.
Not donating anything doesn’t help.
The political mess there can’t be ignored but the people in the refugee camps are not to be blamed. They are simply starving to death as a result.
In 2010, Canadians donated over $100 million to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Last fall we donated nearly $50 million to help people affected by major floods in Pakistan. Both were eligible to receive matching funds from Ottawa.
Canadians are generous and need to be generous again.
On the web: East Africa Drought Relief Fund