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Last Updated: Tuesday July 19 2005 14:49 GMT

Children in Niger 'are starving'

Many children are starving to death in Niger, Africa, where 3.6 million people don't have enough food to eat.

The crisis has been caused by months of drought and a huge plague of locusts which ate much of last year's harvest.

Aid agencies warn a big food crisis is on the way, unless they manage to get lots of food aid into the country.

Niger is the third poorest country in the world, and children's charity Unicef says one child in four there dies before the age of five.

As well as droughts and locusts, Niger is facing problems from late rains, which could lead to the disease malaria.

Many cattle have also died over the last few months because of the lack of food and water.

'Too sick to eat'

A map of Niger
Families are being forced to walk around in the desert looking for food distribution points.

And some of those lucky enough to reach aid centres are too sick to eat by the time they get help.

Experts say this is Niger's worst food crisis for 20 years.

Aid agencies in the country say the situation will get worse over the next few months and United Nations organisations are appealing for donations through their websites.

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