JOHANNESBURG, 13 June (IRIN) - Much-needed food aid distributions in Angola and Lesotho have had to be cut back due to a lack of funds, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Manuel Cristovao, WFP's spokesman in Angola, told IRIN on Monday that the agency was helping about a million people in the country, mostly returning refugees and resettled internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Earlier this year WFP had to halve the cereal rations for returning refugees. "If the funding crisis continues we may have to implement further cuts," Cristovao added.
WFP has also been assisting war-affected populations through school-feeding and food-for-work activities.
The agency still requires US $18 million or 27,000 mt of food for its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation, scheduled to end on 31 December 2005.
In Lesotho, WFP's deputy country representative, Mads Lofvall, said, "What we had to do towards end of May was suspend operations in the whole country. Now, with the limited resources we have, we've prioritised to say we will continue to feed HIV/AIDS patients and families, who are considered the most vulnerable, and with the resources left over we will concentrate on the southern lowland districts and the river valley area, where they have not had a good harvest."
Lofvall added, "The situation is looking bleak, we are running short [of food stocks]. Some donations have come in and we have placed contracts for food resources to be procured locally - we are planning to be able to provide 1,000 mt of food commodities per month, feeding around 80,000 people."
WFP had hoped to reach 240,000 people in need of assistance. "We need 3,000 mt of food aid per month for that, but we only have 1,000 mt coming per month," he noted.
The impact of HIV/AIDS, and the resulting increase in orphans, meant many of those being targeted for food aid were "chronically food insecure".
"We are having to make very difficult choices [about who gets aid] ... as the number of orphans keeps going up and the number of HIV/AIDS patients keeps growing," Lofvall commented.
The results of a joint crop and food supply assessment mission by the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, as well as a Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee report are expected by the end of the month. The reports will quantify the number of people who will need food aid in the year ahead.
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