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Concern Worldwide feature in Red Nose Day appeal with Sir Lenny Henry in response to severe drought and hunger crisis in East Africa

Samiro, 58 with her grandson, Calaso,3, in an IDP settlement in Baidoa, Somalia.
Samiro, 58 with her grandson, Calaso,3, in an IDP settlement in Baidoa, Somalia. Samiro and her family were pastoralists but their livelihood has been affected by the drought. She brought Calaso to a hospital as he was suffering from malnutrition. Photo: Ed Ram/Concern Worldwide

Humanitarian charity Concern Worldwide has welcomed £500,000 from Comic Relief and will feature in an appeal film with Sir Lenny Henry this Red Nose Day to draw much needed attention to the hunger crisis that is putting millions of lives at risk across East Africa.

East Africa is experiencing one of its worst droughts in recent history – a total of five failed rainy seasons. More than 36 million people are affected and over 28 million need urgent assistance across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Comic Relief has a long-standing history of supporting communities in East Africa, with the very first Red Nose Day in 1988 being held in response to the famine in Ethiopia. The generous funding to Concern will reach vulnerable people in Kenya and Somalia, providing them with cash assistance as well as health, nutrition and sanitation and hygiene services. The film will be shown during the Red Nose Day night of TV, which returns on Friday 17 March on BBC One and iPlayer from 7pm. Fronted by Sir Lenny Henry, it lays bare the reality of life amidst the devastating hunger crisis currently sweeping across East Africa and looks back to the early years of Comic Relief when Lenny first visited the region.

Sir Lenny Henry, comedian, and Comic Relief co-founder, says: “On Red Nose Day this Friday night I will be looking back at the very first time I visited East Africa in 1988. It is heart-breaking that millions of families are back on the brink of famine 35 years later.

“Right now, East Africa is being gripped by terrible food shortages. People just like you and I are on the brink of famine. What I said all those years ago is still true today, forget geography these are your neighbours and right now in the middle of this desperate situation, kids are fighting for their lives.

“Concern Worldwide is on the ground, providing emergency food, water and medical care and we know that with the British public’s generosity, we can help save even more lives Thank you to everyone who is able to support Red Nose Day this year – it will make a life-changing difference.”

Last year, Concern helped 1.5 million people across the region, which is facing its sixth failed rainy season as its worst drought on record continues.

Danny Harvey, Executive Director, Concern Worldwide UK, says: “The drought across East Africa is catastrophic for affected families already living in extreme poverty. Five million children are now acutely malnourished in the drought-ravaged areas.

“The crisis, caused largely by changing weather patterns due to climate change, has been exacerbated by factors in the global economy and the rising costs of food and fuel as well as conflict in the region. Water sources have dried up, millions of livestock have died and crops have failed depriving people of their livelihoods. Large numbers of people have been forced (over 1.1 million in Somalia alone since January 2021) to flee their homes in search of support, often in ad-hoc displacement camps near cities.

“The crisis is expected to worsen this year with predications of even more people needing urgent assistance in the coming months. Assistance so far has avoided the very worst effects and we are delighted to partner with Comic Relief to provide much needed support and to shine a spotlight on what is happening in the region. We are working with local communities and partners to help prevent the situation getting worse and these funds will help us continue to reach vulnerable families with the support and services they urgently need.”

Red Nose Day night of TV returns on Friday 17 March, from 7pm on BBC One and iPlayer. 

For media enquiries and image requests, please contact Charlotte Mallory, Senior Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide UK, at [email protected] or on 07488 483304.


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