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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Southern Africa famine 'accelerating'
People in Malawi queuing for food
Malawi is one of the countries badly affected

The United Nations special representative for humanitarian issues in Southern Africa, James Morris, has said that the crisis there is accelerating much faster than had been anticipated.


Famine crisis:








Mr Morris, who has just returned from a visit to the six worst affected countries in the region, is expected to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday to discuss the situation.

Mr Morris arrived at the UN headquarters in New York visibly moved by what he had seen on his journey.

He said it had been "a mind-opening, emotional experience for everyone on the team".

Firstly, he said, the numbers threatened by famine had grown more rapidly than they had expected.

Hardship

The World Food Programme has recently revised upwards the number of people it believes to be at risk across the region from 12.8 million to 14.4 million, with the greatest hardship likely to occur in March next year, just before the next harvest.

Mr Morris said donors had been incredibly generous, and he believed it would be possible to generate the necessary resources by then.

But it was not going to be possible to get two months' supply of relief food into position before the rains started in October, and huge issues of transport and timing still remained.

Impact of Aids

What clearly made the strongest impression on Mr Morris and his colleagues was the realisation of how famine and Aids are inter-connected.

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

The loss of productive capacity caused by the disease was reducing agricultural output across the region, and hunger was weakening those who are already infected and lowering the resistance of those vulnerable to infection.

He said that the WFP was now rethinking the so-called basket of food that it provided to those in need.

It will make the provisions more nutritious in the hope that a better diet will make the vulnerable more resistant to the HIV virus, and keep up the energy levels of those already infected.


Key stories

Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

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See also:

07 Jun 02 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
30 May 02 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
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