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Actor and UNICEF ambassador Selena Gomez has been bringing attention to a rising crisis in the Sahel region in west and central Africa, where drought-caused crop failure across several countries means a severe scarcity of food.

UNICEF says the lives of up to a million children are at risk throughout Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. With a famine looming, malnourishment makes the children more vulnerable to disease, dehydration and pneumonia.

Besides recording a public service announcement, asking for individuals to donate ten dollars to UNICEF to aid in the supply of much needed food, Gomez turned to social media for help.

Gomez asked her 11 million Twitter followers to spread the word and to tag UNICEF USA on Facebook. Then she held a contest where fans could post photos that demonstrate support for SahelNOW, for a chance to become her Facebook and Twitter icon for a week.

“It’s really urgent right now, so I want to be extremely vocal,” says Gomez. “Together with UNICEF we can save so many kids’ lives. Every little thing counts. Whether it’s volunteering or donating or even just telling people, it’s as simple as that.”

Actor and activist Mia Farrow, a long time UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, also made a PSA about Sahel following her visit to the region earlier this year as UNICEF and partners have been gearing up for the peak of the crisis.

“I’ve seen mothers watching their babies dying of starvation. For those children who survive, malnutrition will permanently damage their minds and their ability to grow,” said Farrow. “It’s almost impossible to imagine a million starving children. Try not to think of one million children. Think of one child who needs help right now.”

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