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The BBC's Kate Clark in Kabul
"Afghanistan is facing a nationwide calamity"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Emergency appeal for Afghan drought
Dead goats in Afghanistan
Many farmers have lost their livestock
The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal to help drought-stricken Afghanistan.

It estimates that more than half of the country's 20 million people are affected and has called for $67m for drought relief.



It is now confirmed that the whole country has been severely affected

United Nations
Most of it is to go towards food aid and the provision of drinking water.

The BBC's Kate Clark in Kabul says the drought has hit the teetering Afghan economy hard, leaving many farmers surviving on bread and tea.

Spreading

Speaking in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the acting co-ordinator for the UN's humanitarian mission to Afghanistan, Ahmad Farah, said the drought was more widespread than they had previously estimated.

Distributing bread in Kabul
Severe shortages in wheat production
"It is now confirmed that the whole country has been severely affected," the UN said.

"Preliminary results of a crop assessment survey show that rain-fed crops in the north failed almost completely. The central highlands are also seriously affected," it said.

UN officials said there were no reports of widespread deaths, although there were some unconfirmed reports of some fatalities.

The drought has spread across the region, hitting people in Iran, Pakistan and India.

Food shortage

But it is Afghanistan, already reeling from the affects of war and UN sanctions, that is suffering the most.

"Between now and June 2001 at least half the population of Afghanistan may be affected by the drought, three to four million severely and another eight to 12 million moderately," the UN said.

Apart from providing food, aid money will be used to give farmers and nomads seed, fodder and veterinary help for livestock so they can keep some of their animals alive.

Last year Afghanistan had a record deficit of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat production, out of a total requirement of four million.

It is feared that the shortfall this year could be as high as two million tonnes.

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See also:

31 May 00 | South Asia
Afghan drought spreading
02 May 00 | South Asia
Appeal for Afghan drought victims
26 Apr 00 | South Asia
Drought hits southern Afghanistan
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