News Story

Church Aids Southern African Famine Victims

SALT LAKE CITY — A United Nations program to feed millions of starving Africans has received a cash donation of $1 million from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to purchase 2,746 tons of maize.

Drought conditions in southern Africa have caused crop failure leaving up to 13 million people at risk.

"Wherever there are people who suffer, wherever there are people who hunger," says Harold Brown, managing director of the Welfare Services Department of the Church. "We are anxious to reach out to them and help them where and when we can."

The Church’s donation to the U.N. World Food Programme will be used to purchase food grains in South Africa, which WFP will ship to several other countries where famine and other crises threaten the lives of millions.

"This significant contribution comes at such an important time, when millions of people are facing more and more hunger each day, and some are barely surviving," said James Morris, executive director of WFP. Morris noted that the Church is known for its willingness to respond to humanitarian crises and that an immediate cash contribution to the program is the most effective way to help. Cash can be used to purchase the grain and distribute it immediately to the areas of need.

Church representative Harold Brown applauded the efforts of WFP in recognizing the seriousness of the situation of the people in this area. "The conditions are difficult even in good times. The people have a very difficult time sustaining themselves and then when the drought is thrown on top of that, it makes it extremely difficult," he said.

Before this contribution to the WFP, Church Humanitarian Services had already dispatched 6,750 emergency food boxes and four large shipping containers of clothing from Salt Lake City to help relief efforts in Malawi. An additional 500 tons of maize and beans were purchased in Africa to help famine victims last month.

Morris has made an appeal for $507 million to feed at least 10.2 million people until March 2003. With the donation from the Church, one-quarter of the needed dollar amount has been received from charitable and other nongovernment organizations. With the global trend of declining food aid resources, the U.N. has appointed Morris as a special envoy to relieve the suffering of the hungry people.

"Countless numbers of families are surviving off of wild foods and the chaff of maize grain, which is normally used to feed livestock," said Morris. "Now, not later, is the time to respond — before we see entire communities start to slip downwards to a point of tragic and inescapable death."

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.