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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 03:38 GMT 04:38 UK
GM ban 'threatening Angola aid'
Displaced people in central Angola
Almost a fifth of the Angolan population depend on food aid
Almost two million Angolans may face food shortages after the government's decision to reject genetically-modified food aid, the UN has warned.

The World Food Programme said food aid from the US, which makes up around 70% of contributions, may be rejected.

Earlier this month, the government said it would accept only milled maize imports, to prevent crop contamination.

Almost a fifth of the population need food hand-outs, mostly former refugees who have returned after the civil war.

The conflict ended in 2002, but 1.9 million Angolans reportedly remain dependent on food aid.

'Precarious existence'

The agency's regional director, Mike Sackett, told reporters in Johannesburg the WFP had until Wednesday to confirm a 19,000 tonne shipment of US maize - and could lose it.

Mr Sackett said Angola would accept milled maize, but this was far more expensive, took about four extra months to arrive - and had a much shorter shelf life.

A newly resettled family will face an even more precarious existence
Mike Sackett, WFP

"The GM question is... a further blow to the achievements of the objectives set out by WFP in Angola," he said.

The UN already had difficulties in providing food for Angolans, because of insufficient financial contributions by foreign donors, he said.

Donors have reportedly questioned the government's commitment to resolving humanitarian problems.

Mr Sackett also said the WFP needed $143m in food aid for the coming year, but had received just $34.5m.

As a result, food rations for every family would be cut by 30% in April and May, and then by 50%.

"We don't think people will starve. However...a newly resettled family will face an even more precarious existence," Mr Sackett said.

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24 Mar 04  |  Business
Angola moves to ban GM products
19 Mar 04  |  Africa
A forgotten conflict
08 May 02  |  Archive
Timeline: Angola
19 Feb 04  |  Country profiles

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