WFP appeals for $ 65 mln for floods, refugees

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KAMPALA, Sept 19 (Reuters) The World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for 64.6 million dollar to feed 1.7 million refugees and Ugandans facing food shortages due to flooding.

Ugandan officials said at least 18 people have died following torrential rains that destroyed homes and crops and displaced 300,000 people, especially in a northern region emerging from a two-decade-long insurgency.

''We are struggling to meet both existing and new, growing needs in Uganda,'' said WFP Country Director Tesema Negash.

''Our teams are on the ground distributing food to flood victims, but access is difficult and without new funds, everything is in jeopardy,'' he added.

Uganda also has to cope with about 1.4 million refugees and people displaced by civil war in the north, and expects an influx of asylum-seekers fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Twenty five of Uganda's 80 districts have been cut off by the floods and humanitarian organisations said they had trouble accessing affected communities.

''In addition to food, WFP needs funds for helicopters, boats and emergency repairs to bridges so it can reach people in villages cut off by rising waters,'' a statement by the UN agency said.

The rains are forecast to continue through October and the WFP expects access to the flooded Teso, Lango and Bugisu regions to deteriorate.

State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru told Reuters that 18 people have died in the last two weeks and that the death toll was likely to rise.

''These are people who have either drowned in the submerging water or from hunger in families that have not yet been reached for over two weeks,'' he said.

The WFP said it would be forced to cut rations for displaced families in strife-torn northern Uganda heading home after years in crowded camps.

Some 1.2 million people were forced into displaced people's camps when fighting between the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and government forces uprooted them from their homes.

REUTERS SG VC1513

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