Cameron drafts Olympians for hunger summit
“Race against hunger” brings world leaders and athletes together in the wake of Somalia famine.
A group of Olympic athletes from around the world have backed a campaign organised by David Cameron, UK prime minister, against child malnutrition in vulnerable countries such as Somalia.
Mo Farah, the British double Olympic gold medallist, and other sporting stars have joined Cameron for a hunger summit on Sunday, along with leaders from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ireland.
Also invited are Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie and Brazilian football star Pele.
Cameron hopes to secure enough commitments from leaders and global firms by the time of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to help prevent millions of malnourished children from suffering a stunted growth.
“Between 2011 and 2015, Britain will reach 20 million children under the age of five and pregnant women with nutrition programmes,” Cameron said in his opening remarks at the summit.
Cameron stressed that it was vital leaders and businesses keep the promises they make.
“We’ve all signed up to the World Health Organisation target to cut stunting from malnutrition by 40 per cent in 2025 and it’s now time to put that into practice. That would see something like 70 million children have access to proper nutrition,” Cameron said.
The meeting comes one year after Somalia’s worst famine in generations, leaving tens of thousands displaced in camps in Mogadishu. The UN says 2.5 million people in the country will need aid to survive.
The UN declared a famine in Somalia last July as hundreds of thousands of people set out on foot in search of food, filling refugee camps in Mogadishu, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Though the UN has never released a death toll, the British government estimated between 50 thousand and 100 thousand people died before the famine ended in February.
The situation is nowhere near as bad as one year ago when 3.8 million Somalis were affected, the UN says. Some 12 million people needed assistance at the height of last year’s famine.
The UN says that 18 per cent of children born in the country will not reach the age of five. A third of children are moderately or severely underweight, and only a third of children are enrolled in school.