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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 14:44 GMT
Urgent UN appeal for Afghanistan
Chaman border crossing, Baluchistan
Afghan refugees are being turned back at the border
By Susannah Price in Islamabad

The United Nations is warning that tens of thousands of Afghans may not have enough food to survive until next summer unless the international community pledges more aid.

The acting UN co-ordinator for Afghanistan, Mike Sackett, who launched the 2001 UN appeal for nearly $230m, said next year the scale of human misery is expected to surpass this year.

Afghan refugees
More than a million Afghan refugees are in Pakistan
Afghanistan has been hit by the worst drought in living memory and thousands of refugees have fled to Pakistan in the past few months.

Cereal production has dropped by more than half and there are serious shortages of water for drinking and irrigation.

Mr Sackett said that emergency assistance was under way but resources were limited and already there had been some deaths due to the drought.

He said over the winter months more people were likely to die, if not from starvation, then from disease as result of their weakened state.

Money to food

The UN is hoping to raise about $55m for food aid as well as for other funds to clear landmines, carry out health work and undertake other projects.

Mr Sackett said there were enough food stocks for the three to four months, but even if funds are provided, it could take several months for the money to be translated into food.

He said they had received about half the amount requested in their last appeal.

Aid workers say that while funds are often available for immediate emergency assistance work, it is much more difficult to persuade governments to pay for longer-term development inside Afghanistan.

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See also:

10 Nov 00 | South Asia
Pakistan bars Afghan refugees
07 Nov 00 | South Asia
Afghans flee twin scourges
12 Sep 00 | South Asia
Afghan refugees head for Tajikistan
27 Oct 00 | South Asia
UN agency pleads for Afghan aid
02 Oct 00 | South Asia
Afghans die of drought
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