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Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo witnesses devastation of drought in Kenya

© UNICEF Kenya/2006/Bonn
Singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo with women and children in Kotode, in northern Kenya’s Wajir district.
By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 26 April 2006 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Oxfam campaigner Angélique Kidjo visited the drought-affected Wajir district in northern Kenya this week to raise awareness about the severe crisis that has devastated the Horn of Africa.

Families and communities in Wajir rely on their cattle for survival, but with the two-year crisis that has hit the region, their source of livelihood is now long gone.

Recent rains have exacerbated the crisis by cutting off roads and vital humanitarian access as well as spreading disease. The rains have come too late to save livestock or seed stores already lost due to drought.

© UNICEF Kenya/2006/Bonn
At a feeding centre in Kotode, northern Kenya, Angélique Kidjo talks to a child.
During her visit, Ms. Kidjo spent time at the therapeutic feeding centre at Wajir’s UNICEF-supported District Hospital. There, she witnessed firsthand the scale of the devastation and the deadly effects of the drought in the Horn – the worst in a decade. She was shocked by what she saw.

‘Too much pain’

“We cannot blame anybody but ourselves for being blind about what’s going on in Africa,” said Ms. Kidjo, who is originally from Benin. “I love my continent, more than I can have any words to say. Every time I come here I just want to cry. It’s terrible. I don’t know what to tell you, because there’s too much pain.”

The sight of emaciated infants being treated at the hospital, some with feeding tubes, attested to the severity of the crisis. These children are the latest victims of the regional drought, which has put millions of people in five countries at risk – more than 3 million of them in Kenya alone. And children are among the worst affected.

© UNICEF Kenya/2006/Bonn
Angélique Kidjo helps out at a feeding centre in Kotode, in Kenya’s drought-affected Wajir district.

UNICEF and its partners have been providing health care, food aid and other emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa, all in an effort to help save children’s lives.

On 7 April, the United Nations launched a regional appeal seeking $426 million to provide humanitarian assistance in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The funds will help keep the crisis from turning into a worse catastrophe by addressing immediate needs for nutrition, water and sanitation, and basic health.




26 April 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo’s trip to drought-affected Kenya.

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