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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Mauritania also at risk of hunger
By Pascale Harter
BBC News, Mauritania

A child suffering from malnutrition is treated at a MSF centre in Tahoua, northern Niger
Mauritania hopes to avoid the starvation seen in Niger
The combination of the locust invasion and drought which has brought a food crisis to Niger is set to affect the entire Sahel region of West Africa.

Millions of people in Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso are facing a severe food shortage, the UN has warned.

The spectre of skeletal children too weak to support the weight of their own heads is yet to be seen in Mauritania.

But aid agencies are hoping that this time, donors will not let it come to that before intervening.

Niger is simply in the advanced stages of a food shortage threatening to engulf this entire region.

Critical time

World Vision has already announced a Stage 2 emergency in Mauritania.

That is the critical time before famine.

The organisation has warned that a million people here are already in need of food aid.

A further 1.5m are at risk in Mali and Burkina Faso, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

It's a silent tsunami, says World Vision.

Families are selling off the last of their livestock to buy food and descending further into poverty in what is already the poorest region of the world.

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