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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
UN slams aid 'double standards'
Food aid delivery
Not enough food aid is getting through
The head of the United Nation's food agency has accused western countries of ignoring Africa because of the war in Iraq.

The World Food Programme's James Morris said that 40 million people in Africa faced starvation and were in greater danger than the Iraqi population of 26 million.

Harvests in countries across Africa, from Zimbabwe to Eritrea to Mauritania have failed, leading to widespread food shortages.

He said that the WFP appeal for emergency food aid was currently $1bn short.

The Iraqi appeal could spiral to $1.3bn, he said.

'Blessing'

"As much as I don't like it, I cannot escape the thought that we have a double standard," he said.

AFRICA'S FOOD CRISIS
40 million need food aid
Caused by drought, floods
Made worse by Aids, politics

"How is it we routinely accept a level of suffering and hopelessness in Africa we would never accept in any other part of the world? We simply cannot let this stand," he asked the United Nations security council.

Mr Morris said that Africa desperately needed food aid in the next few months to avert "severe hunger among refugees".

"There are nearly 40 million Africans in greater peril," he said. "They are struggling against starvation, and I can assure you these 40 million Africans, most of them women and children, would find it an immeasurable blessing to have a month's worth of food."

Mr Morris pointed to several countries and areas where the situation was especially worrying:

  • Eritrea: Two-thirds of the population face food shortages, funding situation "grim".
  • Zimbabwe: Concern over politicised food assistance. Offer of monitoring help spurned. Food situation will not stabilise any time soon.
  • Ethiopia: 11 million require assistance, 3 million more on the edge. Funding outlook good.
  • Western Sahel: Food security deterioration, feeding operations short of money.
  • Angola: Land mines restrict land suitable for cultivation as huge numbers of displaced return home straining feeding operations.

He also said that the full impact of Aids across Southern Africa, which is not expected to peak for several years.

In particular he expressed concern at how this would affect the government and food sectors.




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