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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Worry over famine aid shortfall
Malawians queue for food
Across southern Africa people rely on food aid
The World Food Programme (WFP) has renewed its call for $500m to save 13 million people facing starvation across southern Africa.

The WFP originally launched the appeal at the beginning of July but has only received offers of $130m towards its target.

And $98m of that was pledged by the United States on Thursday.


This is the most serious issue facing the world today in terms of an humanitarian context

James Morris WFP Executive Director
The World Health Organisation (Who) has warned that 300,000 could die from famine over the next six months.

It is estimated that a million tonnes of food will need to be sent to the region before the end of the year to meet food shortages from Malawi down to Lesotho.

Until now, only Britain, Canada and the Netherlands had responded to the WFP call.

The European Union (EU) says it is already giving substantial food aid to the region outside the WFP programme.

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

Drop in the ocean

About 200,000 tonnes of food aid has been pledged by the EU, according to its spokesman for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Michael Curtis.

He told the BBC's World Today programme that aid worth $90m is being provided and this will rise to $150m by September.

But the aid going in so far is a drop in the ocean, according to the BBC's southern Africa analyst Martin Plaut.

Unless international donors step up the speed and scale of their response, aid agencies fear that millions will be on the brink of total starvation.

James Morris of WFP says: "Southern Africa faces the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world right now. There are 12.5 to 13 million people severely at risk as a result of weather, the drought, HIV/Aids and other political, complicating factors.

"This is the most serious issue facing the world today in terms of a humanitarian context."

Complicated by Aids

The effects of the food crisis are magnified by the region's lack of funds for crucial services and by the ravages of Aids, according to David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation executive director for sustainable development.

Maize crop
Crops have failed across the region

He says the aid effort must not only concentrate on food provision but also health care and water supplies.

Erratic rainfall has been blamed for crop failures and much of the shortages.

This has been exacerbated, according to BBC correspondents in the region, by government mismanagement, political instability and the displacement of populations by conflict.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Johannesburg
"This could become a full blown disaster"
James Morris, Head of World Food Programme
"We have had to work very hard at encouraging our food donors to be generous"

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Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

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See also:

11 Jul 02 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
30 May 02 | Africa
19 Feb 02 | Africa
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