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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Niger food aid 'no longer needed'
Sacks of food aid arrive in Maradi on 10 August
Mr Amadou does not want the country to become reliant on aid
Niger's prime minister says he agrees with UN plans to end large-scale food aid, which he described as an affront to the country's dignity.

"A large part of the country has already harvested its crops and is already eating them," Hama Amadou said.

The UN had announced it would only concentrate on those most in need once harvesting had started.

But the aid group MSF has warned that with almost a million people not yet fed, it is too soon to stop aid.

Medecins Sans Frontiere says that this could put many mothers and children in particular at risk.

'Dignity suffered'

"Between now and the end of September the harvest will be completed. We're happy that these crops are of good quality and that the people of Niger will no longer need any food aid," Mr Amadou told the BBC's French service.

We've seen how people exploit images to pledge aid that never arrives to those who really need it
Prime Minister Hama Amadou

He said it was necessary to stop the aid so that Niger does not become reliant on aid and he lashed out at donors.

"Our dignity suffered. And we've seen how people exploit images to pledge aid that never arrives to those who really need it."

The UN's World Food Programme maintains that cutting aid now will allow food prices in Niger to normalise after escalating during months of severe shortages.

Challenge

The WFP faces huge logistical challenges moving food aid vast distances on poor roads.

Niger woman selling grain

But the BBC's Hilary Andersson in Niger says that almost a million people who need it have still received no food aid at all and it is now six weeks since the aid began flowing into Niger in large quantities.

She says that large numbers of young children are still dying in feeding centres. An assessment by MSF this week indicates that more than 40 people a day are dying in just one area that they surveyed.

With malaria and other diseases now prevalent in the feeding centres, due to the rains, doctors say many of the malnourished are in a worse condition than they were a month ago.

Niger is ranked the poorest country in the world and has suffered years of neglect by the outside world.


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See how aid agencies are dealing with the crisis in Niger



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