UN agency appeals for 78 million to feed 2 million in southern

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it needs the money to boost its operations in Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland in the first half of 2005 during the peak “hunger months” ahead of the April harvest.The three countries suffered an extremely poor harvest this year because of drought and the effects of poverty and HIV/AIDS. WFP said 127,000 tons of food aid commodities would be needed for the first two quarters of the year to feed 1.85 million people in all – 1.17 million in Malawi, 510,000 in Lesotho and 168,500 in Swaziland.”We had hoped to scale back our activities in 2005 following two massive regional aid operations over the past two years but unfortunately the crisis in parts of southern Africa is far from over,” said Mike Sackett, WFP regional director for the region.A separate emergency operation for those three countries will continue through the end of 2004 but an additional 32,000 tons of food – valued at $17 million – is still needed to cover regional requirements from October to December, WFP said.”Donors have been very generous over the past few years and have helped WFP to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in southern Africa,” Mr. Sackett said. “But there is no time to rest. The international community must stay focused on the crisis in this region otherwise many of the gains that have been made – and most importantly, lives that have been saved – will be lost.”

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