UN cuts Afghan food rations

Published August 19, 2002

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Aug 18: The UN’s World Food Programme is being forced to cut rations for millions of hungry and vulnerable Afghans because international donors have failed to stump up promised cash, officials say.

Just seven months after Western nations pledged billions of dollars in aid to help rebuild Afghanistan, money is already running out for the most basic requirement — feeding people who continue to live on the borderline of survival.

“The level of resources we are going to get will not be enough,” said Guy Gauvreau, the WFP’s representative for northern Afghanistan.

“We’re extremely worried about it. It’s understandable — there’s a drought in southern Africa — but we cannot forget Afghanistan,” he said.

Some six million Afghans still need food aid over the next year, according to UN figures. The WFP has appealed for $285 million this year but is still short of more than $90 million — or 200,000 tones of food — and the lack of cash is beginning to hurt.

Afghanistan is only slowly getting back on its feet after 23 years of war and the worst drought in living memory. The south remains bone dry for a fourth year, and while there has been decent rainfall in the north, many people are still struggling.

Shortages of seeds or oxen combined with locust infestations and a lack of security in many areas all limited the harvest, which Gauvreau says was “good, but not enough to feed people”. Afghanistan already has one of the highest levels of infant and maternal mortality in the world and life expectancy is among the lowest.—Reuters

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