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The BBC's Adam Brookes
"Millions of animals lie dead and dying"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Alarm over Mongolia food crisis
Mongolian yurt
Many Mongolians are nomadic herders who depend on livestock for survival

Mongolia is suffering from a severe food crisis, which could have long term repercussions for its economic well-being, according to the United Nations.

The warning came after Mongolian officials told UN officials in New York that their country's agriculture sector is in a state of collapse.

A combination of a severe winter and drought has killed over two million livestock. Nomadic herders who depend on livestock farming have been forced into poverty and hunger.



The assistance available during socialist days no longer exists, so the herders are on their own

Douglas Gardner, UN official

UN officials say they have received only $371,000 in international aid, far short of their request earlier this year for $3 million.

Coldest winter

The current crisis occurred after last summer's drought was followed by the coldest winter for decades, with temperatures dropping to minus 46 degrees centigrade.


Dead cattle
Dead cattle mean destitution for many herders
But unlike in the past, people have not been able to rely on the government to help them.

"The assistance available during socialist days no longer exists, so the herders are on their own," said Douglas Gardner, the UN Development Programme officer for Mongolia.

Worsening situation

Yet without livestock such as cattle, horses and sheep, herders are effectively destitute. Not only do they have nothing to eat, but nothing to sell to raise cash.

Mr Gardner did not make a specific request for new funds, but he is worried that things could get worse in Mongolia over the coming months if more outside help does not arrive.

The rains this year have got off to an "unpromising start" he said, so that grass is still not re-growing in many areas.

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See also:

14 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolian herdsmen face starvation
16 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Harsh winter hits Mongolian livestock
29 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolia faces calamity
30 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolian freeze crisis deepens
24 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolia: Women redefine their roles
11 Jul 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Driven to drink in Mongolia
14 Oct 99 | Information rich information poor
The cost of communication
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