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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
East Africa 'needs urgent aid'
Food aid
Massive food aid is needed, says the FAO
The United Nations says the number of people facing serious food shortages in eastern Africa has risen to 20m, some 3m more than in April.

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the FAO, said this was partly due to the continuing severe drought, partly because fighting had severely hampered farming in many areas of East Africa.

It said that aid would have to be massive and sustained well into next year.

The FAO said that armed conflicts had led to the displacement of 1.5m Eritreans and 2.4m Sudanese, who were now dependent on food aid.


It said that some children had already starved to death in the worst hit areas in Kenya, where more than 3.3m people were facing famine because of the drought.

Drought in the Horn Numbers affected
1973 Ethiopia 3m
1984 Sudan 8.4m
1984 Ethiopia 7.8m
1991 Sudan 8.6m
1991 Ethiopia 6.2m
1992 Kenya 2.7m

Kenyan livestock farmers were said to be suffering from their fourth consecutive poor rainy season.

Acute food shortages were also reported from Tanzania, where 800,000 people were said to need assistance.

The FAO also expressed concern about food supply problems in the Great Lakes region, with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi particularly affected.

Serious food shortages in the region were predicted as much as a year ago.

Donor criticism

But the magnitude of the problem was underestimated, as Catherine Bertini, an envoy for the UN World Food Programme, admitted when she toured the region in April.

dead cow
The drought has wiped out much of the livestock
However correspondents say the sympathy of donor governments has been limited by a perception that regional governments are themselves partly to blame.

European foreign ministers issued a statement in April saying that the "unnecessary conflict" between Ethiopia and Eritrea had exacerbated their food shortages.

And the FAO itself said in its report on Wednesday that the food supply in Sudan was stable in general.

It said the millions who needed help had been displaced by civil strife and were located mainly in the south.

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See also:

31 Mar 00 | Africa
UN warns of new Horn famine
17 Apr 00 | Africa
Famine threat across the Horn
11 Apr 00 | Africa
UN envoy visits drought region
12 Jul 00 | Africa
Half of Eritrea needs aid
31 Mar 00 | Africa
Is aid really helping?
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