Amnesty urges urgent relief for ‘deep hunger’ in south Madagascar

More than a million people on Madagascar’s parched southern tip are on the brink of famine, global rights group says.

A child's arm is measured at a centre set up by World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger in Beraketa village [File: Laetitia Bezain/AP]

Amnesty International has urged Madagascar’s government and the rest of the world to step up relief efforts for the island nation’s drought-hit south.

More than a million people on Madagascar’s parched southern tip are on the brink of famine and some are already dying, the global rights watchdog said in a report on Wednesday released ahead of the United Nations’ climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

It called on rich nations to provide humanitarian aid and offer financial and technical support to help Madagascar adapt to climate change.

“There is deep hunger, there is lack of access to water, lack of access to health (facilities). Children are particularly badly affected,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general, told Al Jazeera.

“We need to make people gathering in Glasgow next week that climate crisis means people dying of hunger, whether it is in Madagascar or South Sudan.”

“The international community must immediately provide the people in Madagascar affected by the drought with increased humanitarian relief and additional funding for the losses and damages suffered,” she said earlier.

The months-long drought, stoked by climate change, is the worst in 40 years, according to Amnesty. It afflicts a region where more than 90 percent of the population live in poverty, leaving many with little choice but to migrate.

“It is a grave injustice that impacts of climate change are felt by people in developing countries the most considering that they have contributed the least to the climate crisis,” the rights group said.

The UN has repeatedly blamed climate change for the drought, which has forced people to boil weeds and cactus to survive.

In January, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) appealed for emergency aid of $35m to fight hunger in southern Madagascar.

About three-quarters of the country’s 25 million people live in poverty. Madagascar has gone through 16 recorded food crises since 1896.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies