Madagascar: UN Special Rapporteur urges review of sanctions (RFI, African Press Organization)

| August 1, 2011

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Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently urged the global community to re-examine sanctions against Madagascar. Following a mission to the country, he commented that sanctions are one of the reasons Madagascar is “…on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis.”

Many international organizations have suspended aid to Madagascar since elected president Marc Ravalomanana was toppled in a coup in March 2009. Prior to the political crisis, international aid had accounted for half the country’s budget and funded many development programs. At a press conference in Madagascar’s capital in July, Mr. De Schutter said, “Given the lack of progress and that we don’t see a solution on the political horizon, we need to re-examine the impact of these sanctions on the civil population.”

He continued, “It is not acceptable to take them [civilians] hostage under the pretext of wanting to influence the behaviour of the country’s leaders.”

UN figures show that 76.5 per cent of Madagascar’s population lives under the poverty line and 35 per cent of the rural population are hungry. Mr. De Schutter added, “All food security indicators are in the red.”

Mr. De Schutter noted that before the political crisis, Madagascar was showing potential for developing ecological agriculture. He said, “We know that the system of intensive rice cultivation, a pure Malagasy invention, allows to double, triple or even quadruple [rice] yields.”

Madagascar is currently importing 100,000 to 150,000 tons of rice annually. But, according to Mr. De Schutter, “A national strategy to support this type of ecological production could make the large island self-sufficient in rice in three years.” However, he noted, for this to happen, “the authorities must decide to act.”

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