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UN food agency seeks urgent funds to feed hungry Afghans

Written by: Staff
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United Nations, May 5 (UNI) The World Food Programme (WFP) has called upon international donors to provide funds to ensure food aid to 3.5 million Afghans.

''Our lack of funding has left us with almost no choice and food rations and activities will have to be cut if we do not receive fresh donations,'' WFP country representative Charles Vincent said, adding the agency needs 52,000 tonnes of food worth about 40 million dollars for its current operations until December.

''We desperately need donors' help.'' Unless there are new donations, many poor schoolchildren receiving take-home rations of food as an incentive to attend school will not get their dues, he said, noting that WFP, a UN agency, is working in some of the world's most remote and inaccessible locations in Afghanistan, and it can take four to seven months to translate a donor's pledge into food on the ground.

''Given the escalation in needs across the world, donors are understandably stretched. But if the impending ration cuts continue, we may see not only increasing malnutrition rates, but also insecurity and possible displacement to urban centres,'' Mr Vincent warned, according to a statement released at the UN in New York.

A recently completed national food security and vulnerability assessment by the government revealed a worrying picture of poor dietary diversity, poverty, debt and widespread food insecurity.

Despite a predicted good harvest in the north, Afghanistan may face a deficit of at least 400,000 tonnes of cereals this year.

Most farmers in Afghanistan do not harvest enough food to meet their consumption needs for an entire year, and many sell their assets to acquire capital or borrow against the following year's crop, putting them into a vicious cycle of debt. Some even sell their daughters to wipe-off debts.

Poor food consumption with little variety in diet is likely to increase malnutrition and degenerative diseases among the most vulnerable, especially young children.

UNI XC SB ND1108

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