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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
Angola gripped by mass starvation
Starving Angolans
More than a million Angolans depend on aid to survive

The United Nations is warning of a catastrophe in Angola, where it says half a million people are suffering from starvation.

More than a million others are completely dependent on food aid for their survival, according to the UN World Food Programme.

Aid workers say thousands of people have died of hunger over the last few months, and many more are dying every day.

It is the worst starvation to hit Southern Africa in over a decade.

Launch new window : Southern Africa famine
In pictures: Southern Africa famine

Weak and exhausted

The town of Mavinga, in south-eastern Angola, has become the destination for thousands of the starving, who have massed at a small clinic by its airstrip, in the hope of finding food and medical attention.

Dead body
Thousands of people have starved to death in the past few months

The scenes are harrowing: the young and the old are emaciated, their bodies either bloated with kwashiorkor (a form of malnutrition) or wasting away as they lie consumed by weakness and exhaustion.

In many cases severe malnutrition has given way to infection and disease; there are deaths here on a daily basis and the unfolding picture is one of mass starvation.

There are similar pockets of famine across the country.

Man-made crisis

The World Food Programme says half a million Angolans are starving whilst more than a million others are critically reliant on food aid for their day-to-day survival.

Angolan soldiers
Angola has suffered from years of civil war

Over the last few months, thousands have died for lack of food, and aid workers say large numbers are dying on a daily basis now.

The crisis is the direct result of Angola's long-running civil war, which ended in April, 2002.

Many people have fled their homes in search of food, because their fields and crops were destroyed by government troops in the last months of bitter fighting.

Others, former fighters from the defeated rebel group, Unita, have flocked to demobilisation camps with their families, only to find there is little or no food at the camps.

Aid agencies are now operating in many of the worst-hit areas, but not all, as the task is enormous, and parts of the country are not yet considered safe.

This is the worst starvation by far in this region in over a decade, and it could get worse yet.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"This great starvation is almost completely manmade"

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16 May 02 | Africa
23 May 02 | Africa
05 Apr 02 | Country profiles
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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