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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 14:09 GMT
Concern grows for Herat refugees
Dead animals
Large areas have been affected by severe drought
By Kate Clark in Kabul

The UN says it is extremely concerned about refugees in the western Afghan city of Herat.

Well over half a million Afghans have left their homes this year - all are fleeing either fighting or hunger after the worst drought in decades.

Map of Afghanistan showing Herat and Kabul
Some 80,000 have come to the city of Herat alone.

Overnight, the temperature in the area dropped to -25C.

During the day on Tuesday, it had only climbed to -16C.

Most are living in refugee camps where tents and blankets are in short supply, and many tents designed for one family are housing three.

The UN says there is also a worsening food crisis.

It says it only has enough food in Herat for the next month.

Supplies limited

Nationally, the UN's food aid will run out in April unless it gets fresh pledges from donors.

It is also concerned that last year's harvest was so bad many farmers have no seeds for the spring planting.

Many have also had to sell their livestock and tools to buy food.

It has been snowing or raining in much of Afghanistan for last two days.

That makes living conditions even more desperate for the refugees - but psychologically it's a huge relief for a drought weary people.

Even so, much more precipitation is needed.

So far this winter rain and snowfall have been far lower than average.

Afghans fear another bad year is to come.

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | South Asia
Urgent UN appeal for Afghanistan
07 Nov 00 | South Asia
Afghans flee twin scourges
27 Oct 00 | South Asia
UN agency pleads for Afghan aid
02 Oct 00 | South Asia
Afghans die of drought
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