UN says 300,000 in immediate danger of starvation in Somalia
In a statement, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, appealed to donors to "forestall a humanitarian crisis" in the East African country.
"An estimated 40,000 tonnes of food are needed urgently to assist 300,000 people at risk of immediate starvation," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
"At present, although the UN system is in a position to deliver food, stocks are depleted. An additional 450,000 people are increasingly vulnerable," he said.
Eckhard said other relief supplies, notably water and medicines, were needed to "secure the well-being of tens of thousands of children at risk of malnutrition and disease."
Randolph Kent, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the food crisis had worsened since last month's terrorist attacks on the United States, which led to "a significant downturn" in remittances from workers abroad.
Kent told AFP in an interview Friday that money changers in the Gulf and in African countries were "perceived as channels for al-Qaeda," the network which the United States has blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Food shortages were due more to problems of distribution than to a lack of food, he said, because when cash was not available, people went hungry.
Funds had also dried up since Saudi Arabia banned imports of Somali livestock in September last year in an attempt to control Rift Valley fever, Kent said.
He estimated that between 2.5 million and three million animals -- "mostly sheep and goats, with the occasional camel" -- were sold to Gulf states before the ban and that about 800,000 livestock had slipped through since then.
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 10/23/2001 15:34:40
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